Do you #partnerscard?

I first became aware of the Partners Card 20 years ago when my children were young. At the time, I understood it to be a great shopping perk, using the 20% discount at many popular retailers as an excuse to kick off the holiday gift-buying season. My friend that introduced me to the Partners Card also invited me to the first Chi Omega Christmas market that I ever attended. Shopping with girlfriends became a new, fun pastime, one I hadn’t really ever enjoyed.

It wasn’t until a couple years later that I really read the literature and learned that Partners Card is the signature fundraiser for The Family Place, the largest family violence agency in Texas. And that 100% of each Partners Card purchase goes directly to supporting survivors of family violence. Over 100 women are killed by their domestic partners each year in North Texas.

The Family Place provides tremendous support for women who cannot escape the violence brought on by those they trust, and that’s why I buy a card every year. It seems like a small contribution but $70 pays for 1 night in a shelter for a woman to hide from her attacker. My hope is that the number of domestic violence deaths can reduce to zero thanks to the work that this organization is doing in the community.

This week, to coincide with Partners Card sales, Butterfield Gourmet will donate 10% of all sales to The Family Place. If you are interested in purchasing a Partners Card to help end domestic violence, visit their website for the available retail locations.

domestic violence.jpeg

What makes a hero?

Our society places a lot of stock in celebrity status. Star in a movie (or even appear on screen), you're adored. Make it to the majors in any sport, instantly an icon. Sell a few thousand albums, gain a million followers. Or, appear sans clothing in self-made videos (a la Kardashian) and you might even get your own reality TV show. Many people consider these individuals to be heroes and idolize their every move.

I'm not much of a groupie person myself (other than revering Super Chef status, natch) because I feel that celebrities are just people like you and me. They get dressed every morning and brush their teeth. They have highs and lows. They love, lose, cry, mourn, rejoice, live, and die. And sometimes, the way in which celebrities live their lives is not only undeserving of hero-worship but downright shameful.  

Today I want to briefly mention a superstar who made a point of using his celebrity status to make someone special to me feel like she was the brightest star in the universe. My niece, Faith Elizabeth Kuhn, suffers from spina bifida. She is 12 years old, has been through 15+ surgeries since birth and she has a huge, pre-adolescent crush on Chicago Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant. Through a friend of the family in Albuquerque, Kris learned of her "feelings for him" (i.e. "He's hot!") and made arrangements to bring Faith, her two siblings, and parents to Chicago to watch a home game. It was a surreal experience for the entire family, of which Faith shared "was a like a dream come true." I am so grateful to Kris Bryant and his lovely wife for showing real love to my extended family. The very successful athlete was heroic in his compassion and generosity.

However, if you’re with me on this…you’ll agree that the spunky 12-year-old is the real hero in this story. My sister and her husband, from the time she was in the womb and learned that she would be born with this very limiting disability, knew there was a reason this child should share their life and appropriately christened her Faith. And with each year and new surgery, all of the pain and discomfort, missing out on school and time with friends, none of the trials seem to dim her thousand-watt smile. Faith has a strength of will and determination that many children and even adults lack, despite perfect health.

In two weeks, Faith will undergo her most trying surgical experience to date. Due to a major growth spurt, she needs a rod removed from her spine because it is threatening to twist her little body into a most unnatural shape. She will be in traction for two weeks to stretch her spine and spinal chord. After this painful stint in the hospital, she will possibly endure another surgery involving rib removal. And then another for final fusion in two places along her spine. Through it all, Faith and the entire Kuhn family will remain, well, faithful. Won’t you join me in praying for this little warrior who heroically trudges on through the trials of her young life?

To the Best Guy

It's Father's Day, another made-up Hallmark holiday that actually has turned into a worthy occasion. After all, without a card company to tell us that we need to celebrate the special someones in our lives, would we ever get around to telling them how much they mean to us? Maybe we would, maybe not. But I'm going to use this excuse to share with you about not a father figure in my life, but my husband, the father of my children.

In case I've never really said it, JB's kind of great. He is patient, sweet, funny, generous, intelligent, and ambitious. He has adored his children from the first moment he held them in his arms as infants. He also imparted his Faith to our children, raising them to seek God and follow His ways. JB preaches tough love to his kids but then worries about them incessantly. He loves to laugh with them, and to make them crack up. He looks forward to golf outings with his sons more than any other humans. He enjoys sharing what he knows about life, travel and business with his family, teaching them as much as he is able. All of these things make him a really great Dad.

But there is one thing that JB especially does well that makes him an all-star father:  He loves his kids' mom. In our house, we believe that the Marriage is the foundation on which the family is built. So we have always tried to put our relationship as the top priority. Not to say that the children are excluded from the inner circle, but that they are outer rings that form the family with parents that love each other at the core. So on Father's Day, I am so grateful to this man that has adored, protected and loved me like I never knew was possible. His commitment to "Us" is steadfast and true, and there would be no family without his dedication to all of us. Life is not perfect. But I am blessed beyond measure to be walking this imperfect life with the man that is The One for me.

On the lighter side...when our children were young, my husband was highly skilled at playing what came to be known as the "daddy game." It's a very simple game--someone starts to tell a story about their day and invariably, Dad repeats a part of the story back to the teller, but mispronounces one of the names as though he misheard. The storyteller corrects his mistake and he acknowledges but then continues to repeat the incorrect usage until finally, the child wises up and realizes that Dad is doing it on PURPOSE. It is a father's right to tease and torment his children, don't you agree? BTW, JB answers to many names in our circle: there's Dad, Pops, and Daddy; also JB, Loverboy, Butterman, Master of the Universe, Captain Obvious and lastly, Johnny B, when he speaks of himself in 3rd person, usually after performing a signature dive into the pool. 

Hope you all have a wonderful Father's Day filled with laughter and good food. Be sure to hug your daddy or your children's daddy or someone who likes to be called daddy. Hugging is always a good thing.

Growing up a Billy Graham Groupie

It's funny how many young people I speak with whom love the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Sure, it's classic rock-n-roll but it's not like their songs are played over the radio waves or in restaurants these days and therefore in their every day consciousness. More than likely, their parents are/were huge fans back in their youth. Often these young people grew up hearing stories of amazing concerts or have listened to their parents' collection of vinyls or cds and their testament that the band was "the greatest of all time!"

In my young missionary-kid existence, things were a little different. My parents went to "The Jesus People" concerts (not kidding! they were a quartet of two young women and two young men who sang under that moniker). And they also attended the Billy Graham Crusade when the reverend came to Taipei, Taiwan in 1975. 

There's no denying the man's impact on the world. He was an evangelist that never forgot his vocation, taking his mission--to spread the word and love of God--to every corner of the globe. And in his 5 decades+ ministry, he managed to reach 185 countries and 215 million people. He had personal relationships with every president from Truman to Obama. And yet he was the evangelist who never tried to profit from followers, nor build a megachurch, nor run for president. He was not a womanizer but was married to his wife, Ruth, for 63 years until she passed in 2007. 

No man is perfect, but I feel the Reverend Billy Graham was an amazing role model for us today. And that's why I'm okay with admitting I was kind of groupie for that humble, non-self-serving man of God. And as a member of the Billy Graham fan club, let me share a few fun facts about the man of which you may or may not be aware:

  1. His birthday is November 7. And so is mine!
  2. His wife's name is Ruth. And so is mine!
  3. Ruth was raised a child of missionaries in Asia. Me too!
  4. Billy was a southern boy, born in North Carolina. I was born in Kentucky!
  5. He loved McDonald's. Oops, not me, but maybe when I was a child?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (Rev. Billy Graham's favorite Bible verse)

 Dad is center, shaking the Reverend's hand and my cute, chic mother is on the left of Dad.

Dad is center, shaking the Reverend's hand and my cute, chic mother is on the left of Dad.

Oh, the places you'll go!

We all know and love the Dr. Seuss classic with that title. The book usually appears on a prominent table at a bookstore near the end of the school year because it is a popular gift for graduates. Our home has two or three copies floating around that were given on such an occasion.

But maybe the giver should have explained to our son, James, that Dr. Seuss' immortal push

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”

was not an immediate call to action! As I write this blog, our youngest child is strolling the beaches of Barcelona and sampling paella. Last weekend, he soaked his tired feet in the natural hot springs of Budapest. And the week prior, he logged 15 miles in one day exploring the streets of Rome. James is taking his semester abroad very seriously...

All kidding aside, we are thrilled that he is having the experiences of a lifetime. Of course, it was not easy for Momma to let him go halfway around the world. It's a scary thing for me (as you can see by my not-so-excited face in the first image.) Thankfully, technology allows us to stay in touch to ease my fears and he has been very communicative. Also, TCU sent 35 students to the Rome program so he is not alone; his week days feel much like his time on campus in Ft. Worth...with the exception that he walks past centuries old monuments and on ancient streets to get to class!

Being his mother's son, he loves to eat good food and guess what? He writes. If you would like to read some of the musings from his trip, check out his blog. His photography skills exceed any in the family and his voice is young but detailed. Our family is really enjoying keeping up with his travels in this way. 

His father and I truly feel an immense amount of joy that we can send him on this journey. From our meager beginnings in a little apartment to having a son in Europe for 4 months is a huge leap and we are humbled by God's blessings.

Cherish is my word for 2018

In December I attended a breakfast where the guest speaker encouraged each of us to find our "mission statement" and to try to keep it to 6 words or less. We could then refer to our self-created statement to help make decisions for the new year. Initially, I decided my 6 word sentence would be "I will do what benefits my family." Therefore, when an opportunity would arise in the coming year to travel somewhere, participate in an event, etc., I could ask myself "will this benefit my family?" and with a yes or no, discern how to act.

However, after the events of the past few weeks, I feel the need to make it simpler than the 6-word mission statement. We lost a dear friend in December and in mourning his passing, we have felt a deep loss that is tinged with regret for missed opportunities. So my desire moving into 2018 is to Cherish. I will

  • Cherish my sweet, sweet husband. We will celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2018. What a blessing he is to me every. single. day.
  • Cherish my family. For the first time in four years, I had everyone home for Christmas. My daughter and her family were here from Atlanta and three littles ones, aged 5 years and under, will make any event exciting! They also brought the joyful news that they are expecting their fourth in May! We had a full house and full hearts.
  • Cherish my parents and in-laws. We are very fortunate to have all four alive and kicking. But time is passing and as the priest said at my friend's funeral mass, we are all terminal. I want to cherish every bit of time I have remaining with these wise people who have shaped my life and that of my mate.
  • Cherish my friendships. I don't always think about my friends every day but now I see how every interaction is so precious; life is unpredictable so I need to cherish the moments I have with my friends and not waste any time or energy on negative or petty feelings.
  • Cherish my health. Yes, this body of mine creaks and aches more than in my youth. Yes, I have to watch what I eat and exercise just to maintain my daily stamina. But it's the only body I have and it hasn't failed me yet. 
  • Cherish the downtime. The quiet moments when I can pray, reflect and meditate are also a sweet part of life and I will not take them for granted. 
  • Cherish the everyday. While working, writing, going to the grocery store, interacting with customers, rolling out pie crust, stirring over the stove, each moment that I am simply able to do these tasks + touch other's lives does not repeat and I will see the joy in each one.

So enough about me...what's your word for 2018?

IMG_2DF7A8AAEFDA-1.jpeg

Farewell, my Friend

I am an obsessive journaler. Beginning in 2000, I have consistently written about our everyday lives in little snippets first on scrapbook calendar pages and then in dedicated notebooks. The entries are nothing exciting - simple commentaries on what I did each day - how far I walked, what I cooked for dinner, what movies we watched, even the time I woke up. But today I am grateful for my journal habit because I can tell you the day on which I met Dominic & Rosemarie Coletto. 

It was August 18, 2001, at the St. Ann Supper Club kick-off potluck. John and I had been assigned to the same group as the Colettos for the current round. It was the first time for them to join the club and we were veterans. I wrote that we met "a cute couple from Chicago" and that it had been a fun evening. Also noted: on September 29, Dom & Rosemarie hosted the first gathering for our group of five couples. They were new to the supper club and yet jumped right in to host in their usual welcoming way. Dinner was fabulous - I remember that she made Beef Braciole and Risotto--I was so impressed and according to my journal, we stayed until 1:30 am! 

There was an immediate connection between the four of us. John and Dominic were both in sales; Rosemarie and I both loved to cook. But deeper than those superficial commonalities was a love of our faith, commitment to our marriages and tough-love parenting styles. Deep friendships are rare and precious in this day and age and we knew we'd found a special bond in those two.

Over the years we shared many occasions and created lifetime memories together. Because we both lived in Texas and away from extended families, we began to celebrate Christmas eve dinners together. One year the Colettos would host the meal and we would bring dessert and the next year, the Butterfields would host and they would provide the sweet ending. It was Rosemarie who introduced us to the Feast of the Seven Fishes. There were a lot of poppers and goofy pictures with paper crowns, but mostly there was so much laughter! And drinks. And champagne. And delicious meals. Sometimes we played games. Always lots of pictures. Grandma Rita was a part of these festivities before she was taken too early from this earth. But each Christmas Eve was a joyful night of friendship and family.

We took family vacations together to Florida and Mexico. And a memorable couples long weekend to San Diego after we "won" the trip at the Bishops Ball. There were Easter brunches and dinners out at the newest restaurants in Dallas. Two surprise birthday parties. We saw each other through 7 high school graduations and 4 college commencements. Dominic and Rosemarie were present at each of our 3 grown children's weddings. We've been through job changes, house moves and child rearing challenges. We've shared so much together.

The latest chapter in our friendship has been Dominic's illness. On August 22, 2016, we had dinner in downtown Dallas for a belated birthday celebration for Rosemarie. The following morning, she texted me to ask how we were feeling because Dominic had been violently ill overnight. That week marked the beginning of his journey fighting a horrible disease. And fight it he did. We knew without a doubt that he was not going to let cancer take him down. And if it did, he'd go down swinging. Those fists were still going when he lost that battle on December 26, 2017. It is with so much heartbreak and sadness that I must acknowledge that my friend Dominic could not defeat his illness and has left his earthly body to join his Heavenly Father. 

He leaves behind his beautiful, devoted Rosemarie and their daughters, Danielle, Alyssa and Olivia. Additionally, he leaves a legacy of a life well-lived and so many memories for those of us who knew him well and those who were merely acquaintances. Below are a few of my thoughts and musings on my friend, Dominic.

  • He is a devoted Catholic, born and raised, reignited by the Christ Renews His Parish movement. He served tireless hours in Eucharistic Adoration, oftentimes in the middle of the night. Beyond the Church, he knows Christ as his Lord and Savior and acknowledges God's dominion over his life.
  • Dominic is a grateful, committed husband and his marriage to Rosemarie is an enviable example of two souls who have found their home in each other.
  • He is a cool dad. Loved and adored by three daughters, always able to make them laugh, and having a special bond with each of them. I see Dominic in Danielle's steely determination; in Alyssa's gregariousness, drawing all into the circle; in Olivia's tenacity and drive. 
  • Dominic is a SPORTS FAN. Chicago Bears, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Cubs, Oklahoma Sooners. John and he shared so many conversations in text and in person about sports analysis, predictions and game-time plays.
  • He is a story teller. Not as in tall tales, but as in relaying an occurrence detail by detail. Occasionally we would tease him by saying "is there a point to this story?" But he loves to tell a good tale especially one that ends in irony.
  • Dominic has an amazing sense of humor--he loves to make people laugh and he loves to hear jokes. His ability to slip in a conversation-stopping one-liner is legendary. One of my favorite Dominic lines: "What can I say? I'm a guy."
  • He is a loyal friend. Dominic can keep secrets, provide counsel, offer advice and give encouragement. 

And Dominic is not really gone. He's still present in Rosemarie's tears, Danielle's laugh, Alyssa's ready humor and Olivia's sports enthusiasm. That is why I say Farewell, my Friend and not Goodbye. Dominic, you are not forgotten and and we feel your presence and love even now and anticipate a joyful reunion with you in heaven. 

 

The Feast of the Seven Fishes

We all have family traditions, some that you've cherished for years, can't remember when they began, and are automatically a part of every celebration. Then there are the special things you might do one year because you read about another family's participation or felt inspired and you try it out on your group and they love it so you add it to the annual festivities. No surprise, our family's traditions usually have something to do with food!

A few years ago, our Christmas eve dinner became a seafood meal. We had some Italian-American friends that introduced us to the concept, rooted in Catholic tradition that involves fasting from red meat on major religious days as Christmas Eve leading into Christmas day is such. The Feast of the Seven Fishes came into being to allow for a meal that would abstain from meat and of course, seven is a big number in the church! 

So for a number of years, when we are fortunate to host our family or friends on Christmas Eve, I have attempted to serve SEVEN fish courses. Some years I have managed only 5 but last year was a winner...

Christmas Eve 2016

Smoked Salmon with crostini

Clam Chowder Shooters

Tuna Tartare with wonton crisps

Mini Crabcakes with Remoulade

King Crablegs

Endive & Goat Cheese Salad

Shrimp Scampi & Angel Hair Pasta

Seared Swordfish Steaks on Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Chocolate Cake Roll

For 2017, I am planning to scale it back a little (maybe 4 or 5 fishes) for several reasons: 1. the meal follows a church service which limits time to prep. 2. there will be only 5 people at the table, so why overdo it?  and 3. Christmas day dinner involves a complicated potato dish, a huge rib roast and a cream puff tower. Regardless, Christmas eve will be filled with laughter, spirits, fishy courses and family...I could not ask for more.

What are some of your family traditions for the holidays? 

 

 

The BG Pie Project

Back in September, a family friend approached me about making pies for his restaurants. He shared that he had recently purchased 9 locations of a steakhouse group and wanted to add fresh baked pies as a dessert option...because what's more Texan than a huge slice of pie with ice cream?! I did NOT immediately jump at the opportunity because it was an overwhelming prospect. I had so many questions...how many pies would they serve each week? what flavors were they looking to serve? how could I possibly make a large quantity of pies by myself?  how/where could I store any quantity of pies, fresh or frozen? would it be worth the extra time and work involved?

So I baked four Grandma Alice's Apple Pies and a Southern Pecan Pie just for grins and presented them to a group of 11 restaurant GMs. They loved the pies. We agreed on a price. November 1 was the planned start of the new menu. Now to produce 100 pies for pick up/delivery by October 25. Oh, and continue to manage the weekly menu side of my business as well. You know I was panicking at this point, right? 

But once again, God in His infinite wisdom, knows what we need before we do. Because I was sharing a kitchen with the resident caterer at PHPC, I met a couple of hard-working individuals that were looking for extra income. And there I found my apple preppers. When I went to the Eagle Scout ceremony for my godson, I spoke briefly with his sister who had moved home to transfer to a local university and was looking for a part-time job. And there I found my girl Friday, the I-will-do-anything-just-tell-me-what assistant. Over the summer, one of my daughter's friends helped me at the Farmers Market and her foodie friend stopped by and we reconnected a couple months later when she was searching for an outlet for her creativity. And there I found my sous chef, who I have come to depend on within just two months of her joining BG. Because the caterer and I were finding it increasingly difficult to work around each other with the approaching holidays, he spoke with the management and I was able to move back to the North kitchen. And there I found my storage space for the pies and the workspace to continue to grow Butterfield Gourmet.

So we are making a lot of pies. And we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It's an exciting opportunity for Butterfield Gourmet. If you happen by Texas Land & Cattle in Garland, Arlington or the Austin/San Antonio areas, please stop in and order a slice of the fresh seasonal pie because I would love to hear about your experience-- and don't forget to send me a picture!!

 

Is what you eat important to you?

I have friends who think every restaurant is good.

I'm serious. I have never heard them proclaim, "that place is awful." They like them all. On the flip side, I also know people who are sooooo hard to please. They nit-pick every aspect about dining out, even at fast-casual and self-serve establishments. I'm probably somewhere in the middle.

I really care about quality, flavors, portions, and presentation. I want my food to TASTE GOOD. The dining experience is a whole different ball of wax and can influence my impressions of a restaurant, but really the question is, does the food please my palate and satisfy my hunger?

Our bodies require the intake of meals to sustain life. Simply put, God made us that way. Regardless of taste and seasoning, the food we take in will keep our bodies running. But I believe that another truth is that because we don't have a trade-in option on the original chassis, we should take the best care we can of the bodies we currently inhabit. So when and where we can, we should choose healthy options created with real ingredients and as little processing as possible. And maybe make it a point every day to consume some raw fruits, nuts and vegetables that God placed on the earth to sustain us.

(But...I'm not gonna lie. I eat chips & salsa. And halloween candy. It's okay to eat bad stuff sometimes. A little splurge can ensure sanity, am I right?)
 

Thankful for my Faithful Father

It’s Father’s Day weekend and time to honor and celebrate the men in our lives. Mothers get so much more acclaim than their male counterparts and moms definitely deserve to be honored. There is nothing like the nurture you receive from your mom to shape your personality and future.

But I want to speak to the blessing that my dad, Tom Beach, has been in my life. When I think of my father, so many diverse images come to mind. Scholar. Pilot. Jesus-freak. Teacher. Sports fan. Marathoner. Evangelist. Brother. Husband. Son. He has been all those things to so many people.

 My father in his post-Jesus freak phase

My father in his post-Jesus freak phase

He ran track for Kansas State for one year.  Became a missionary in Taiwan after graduating from college. Learned to speak perfect Taiwanese. Received a Masters in Divinity. Earned his private pilot’s license. High school teacher at Taipei American School. Founded a ministry-“The Way Inn” to provide a meeting place for young people to worship in Taiwan. Youth pastor at Christian Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Avid motorcyclist. Ran multiple marathons. He can name every tree in the forest and identify the clouds in the sky.

But besides all of the talents and accomplishments, my father is the most faith-filled man I have ever known. He believes that every person is “savable.” He is compassionate and discerning and loving and affectionate. He married a girl who could speak no english but he saw in her the beauty of Christ. And he has loved each of his children fully and unconditionally. I am so proud to call him my dad and am so thankful for the way he raised me.

So on this Sunday, I just want to express my gratitude for him. I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day! <3

 Loving on Daddy, 1969. Tonia is left, Ruth is right

Loving on Daddy, 1969. Tonia is left, Ruth is right

In Pursuit of Patience

For the month of June, I’m finally getting around to calling out my problem with impatience. As evidenced by the pained look that appears on my face when I’m standing in the express line behind a woman writing a check. Even worse than the fact that I am utterly impatient is the fact that you can read it on my face. So I’m going to try to take calming breaths and assume a look of peace and tranquility.

But beyond my impatience with every day tasks, driving conditions and snail mail, I really need to learn to wait on life. On God to answer prayers. On solutions to dilemmas that will only be solved with time. I must acquire peace through stillness and inactivity. And. This. Is. So. Hard.

Sometimes we think we can make things happen quicker. That if we line up all the chickens, we will be flush in eggs. That if I pray the same prayer every morning, I must get the answer I am desiring. Unfortunately, we are NOT always in control and God may have a different plan. In June, I will try to let go of my expectations about timeframe, and even more difficult to do, let go of my demands for the outcome. I know I will find peace in this act of faith.

This doesn’t mean I will discontinue my prayers and hopes. As long as I’m not impatient and demanding and can remain peaceful. And that’s where I hope to be.

I hope that many of you are around this week to enjoy our fabulous menu. We will be cooking all of June and will be sporadic for most of July, then close completely for two weeks at the end of July and first part of August.

Blowing kisses in May

By golly, I’m going to get my act together. If my resolution in May doesn’t shape me up, it’ll kill me for sure. So, first my confession: I’m a bit of an aggressive driver. Impatient to a fault. Lead-foot. Not a tail-gater, but have been known to talk to the driver in front of me, gesturing with uplifted hands, smacking my head, hoping they are looking in their rear view mirror to register my annoyance, disgust or anger.

Well, this month my goal is to gesture in a completely different way when I’m cut off or delayed by the very cautious motorist in front of me. For May, I will try to blow a kiss to the subject of my irritation and utter this saying “I hope you arrive safely and on time to your destination.” I will attempt to murmur this blessing every time I feel the need to scream silently or when I feel my blood boil in righteous indignation.

037e79b2fb52127537be79110891ae3f-e1494073270269.png

This may be my most difficult change to date. Please send help.

But seriously, if I can accomplish this goal, how much better will the roads be?! If we could all send out blessings instead of curses, the energy around us would completely change to a positive force of synchronized oneness from which all love would abound…yeah, right. Sorry, that’s just silly talk. Life is well, life. It’s messy and dirty and can be negative and ugly. For now, I’ll just be happy to change the 6’x6’ atmosphere inside my ride to a place of peace. Most of my commutes to the kitchen or the big box store are short and SURELY, I can blow kisses and whisper blessings for the 15 minutes I’m in the car each way.  I hope. I’ll try. Pray for me. :)

At the end of this week, we honor our mothers, whether honorary, adoptive, by birth, or by action. I am so blessed by my mom, Sadako, who brought me into the world and continues to be a Godly inspiration of sacrifice and service, and by Jeanette. my mother-in-law, a woman of limitless patience and discretion. I wish I could hug them both on Sunday and tell them in person what they mean to me, but a phone call will have to do. Be sure to tell your mother figures how important they are to you this week and as often as possible.

I have a special menu for those of you who want to make Mom’s day easy and tasty—you can find it here. If you are a mother on my list, know that I admire and respect you in your tireless devotion to your families.

Blessings and car kisses,

Ruth

April's Attitude of Gratitude

If you’ve been following along with the blog, you’ll know I’ve been working on monthly resolutions.

January – Ditch the Grudge

February – Pay it Forward

March – Plant Seeds of Optimism

This month’s theme was inspired by a talk from a young priest last month. He had spent his “spring break” on a mission trip to a third world country. He commented that as is so often on these outreach events, as the “missionary” you gain as much as, if not more than the people you intend to help. He described a young child who would hang around the job site as they built homes for these needy people and when he asked her to show him her toys she proudly brought out her prized doll. When he requested to see her other toys, she looked a little confused and replied, “This is my toy. Isn’t she pretty?” She was so happy with her one plaything, her one possession.

The young priest had an “a-ha” moment…a forehead-slapping humbling insight. We are all so caught up in our phones, iPads, laptops, and other things that we feel we cannot live without each day. We don’t feel grateful for the ease of our lives and the possessions that we take for granted. We forget that our children have never done without or had to worry about a safe roof over their heads or the accessibility of healthcare. Plentiful healthy meals, superior education and culture are a given in our neighborhoods. So his recommendation for the lenten season was to work to be grateful for what we already have rather than to sacrifice or “give up” a favorite food, beverage or activity.

During the month of April I am working to cultivate daily gratitude for my blessings, as well as my normal existence. I will try not to take for granted the things I have, the people in my life and least of all, this great state and country I call home. My goal is to see the beauty of my health, enjoy each new morning as it rises and sigh with a grateful heart at the end of each evening. Won’t you join me in my attitude of gratitude this month?

Other things to be thankful for:  sweet customers who make my work worthwhile, fresh produce in the markets to make delicious salads and soups, and ripe fruit for pie! Have a great week…be sure to check the order site for available items not listed on the posted menu. 

 Raspberry Pie

Raspberry Pie

Planting Seeds in March

The Greenhouse of the Heart

If thoughts are seeds, what will you plant? As intelligent beings, we are most decidedly in control of the thoughts that cross our minds. Sure, a random thought can pop into the consciousness but where it goes from there…down a negative turn or an optimistic scenario is completely up to us. For example, my son was interviewing for a position in a new company and he had a very encouraging meeting. However, when he received the phone call informing him the company was choosing another candidate, he could have been filled with self doubt. Instead, he chose to be optimistic stating that the process had been a good learning experience. “Moving on!” he told us.

So let’s think of our hearts, which are swayed by our minds, as a greenhouse to be filled with lovely, growing things. And maybe one morning you spend a few moments recalling blessings and those thoughts produce roses. Whereas time spent dwelling on past disappointments create weeds that attack healthy plants.

For March, I’m going to work on filling my greenhouse with flowers, fruits and tender green grass. “Sow seeds of hope, enjoy optimism. Sow seeds of doubt and expect insecurity.” Max Lucado

sow-seeds-704x396
sow-seeds-704x396

Pay it forward February

We’ve all heard the term “pay it forward” as it’s been a part of the present social consciousness since 2000 when a book and movie debuted with the same title. It refers to the concept of doing a favor or blessing individuals in hopes that they will do the same for others, thereby paying forward good will.

But my theme this month is about paying forward to create an overall better society by starting small, within our own homes. If you have children, you know what a momentous task it is to raise them in this crazy, digital, over-indulged, 24-hour news, reality TV world. They have peer pressure from other kids in their proximity, as well as from their Instagram feed, You-tube videos, Snapchat and the shows they absorb too readily from the many devices we have in our lives. And somewhere along the way, a lot of parents have lost their direction in preparing their children for the outside world.

Sometime in the last 30 years, we began to parent by “neighborhood council” where we let what other families were doing become the norm so that we did what everyone else was doing. It’s a tough job raising kids without having to come up with our own set of rules, especially when parents feel pressured by other parents. If Suzy comes home saying that all of her other friends’ parents are saying yes, well by golly, you’d better say yes too.

Unfortunately, our society seems to be hurting due to this method of parenting. Every day common courtesies and polite behavior are becoming unusual and no longer the norm. Fight for your rights, stand up for yourself, it’s “me” time are the mantras of the enlightened individual.

So my thought is this: rather than buy coffee for the next 3 people in line behind you at Starbucks, why not pay it forward to society by resolving to send a responsible, compassionate, non-self-centered adult into the world when they leave your home? Teach your child to take the high road when they are slighted by other children. Speak compassionately of individuals who have less materially than you do, and instead highlight some of their assets in other areas. Model an “I am Third” attitude in your home and praise your children when they do the same. Teach them to be respectful and polite always—not just when they are treated likewise. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive.

And if your children are grown and have left the home, you can still influence them by example…grow old with grace, let go of old grudges, model patience and compassion. Let’s pay it forward to the world in which our children will raise their children. Let’s take back the era of rude behavior and carve out a bit of Pleasantville in our lives. What’s wrong with being nice?

 Chocolate Lovers Cake

Chocolate Lovers Cake

Ditch the Grudge January

I recently heard a talk show host state that only 40% of Americans make resolutions for the coming year. That statement shocked me! Everyone I know makes a list or resolves to change a few things whether health, job or habit related.

I’m approaching my list a little differently this year. In the past I have made a list of things to change (or work on) in 4 areas of my life: health, faith, finances, and relationships. I’ve still got a running list—why is it longer this year?—but I’m also trying a new approach for 2017. This year I want to give each month a theme so I can really work on an area and feel accomplishment when I make strides in that little trouble spot.

So January is “Ditch the Grudge” because carrying around past hurts helps no one and actually harms me the most. I’m really not speaking to those enormous wounds that only years of therapy can alleviate (lol)...but those stupid little injuries that we associate with memories of individuals. As in, “I’ll never forget how that woman was snotty to my nail lady until she turned around and saw me there.” I’m going to forget I witnessed that scene and I will not repeat it to anyone else. Or, “I can’t believe my sister never calls me, she just texts when she needs something.” I’m going to pick up the phone and call her and brush those feelings aside. And “My friend is so negative about everything we do.” Instead of stewing about it later, I’m just going to call her on it right then and there so it’s off my chest and out of my mind.

I already feel more peaceful just resolving to make this change.