The Dog

Our dog really is a sweet little guy.  As we learn more and more about him, we know we made the right choice in adopting him.  This morning A took Bandit out for his normal early AM walk.  We've discovered you really can't tire this guy out and we have to change up his scenery for him because if we don't?  He gets VERY mischievious.  In a destructive sort of way.

This morning's walk was cut a bit short, though.  Unfortunately, I ignored my alarm and so did our son so the house was running about 10 minutes behind which isn't that big of a deal unless there is a bus to catch.  So, A brought Bandit home after a very quick walk.  I don't know if they skipped any of their normal route but I do know it was faster than usual.

When they got home, A removed Bandit's pack.  He carries a pack and in it carries his "walk supplies."  The dog knows he doesn't walk without his pack and knows what it means every time the pack comes off of its hook.

So...the pack is laying on the kitchen floor because A had to rush out to do something quite quickly (say good-bye to the boy & I) and when he came back in, this is what he found:

I'm pretty sure Bandit was a tiny bit disappointed at the lost walk time this morning.  We might need to make it up to him tonight.

And what were we thinking, adopting dog so smart he can get himself dressed in the morning?!?!?!  Right...he's too stinkin' cute...


Best Fall Vegetable Dish

The Chew, a TV show on ABC (in the Seattle area it's on KOMO 4 at noon, Monday-Friday) has become my company for lunch during the week.  The hosts, the recipes, the guests...all a great way to spend an hour each day.  They come up with such amazing food but if you've read this blog at all you know I'm a food dreamer, not a good cook.  I always say I'm going to try one of their recipes but up until tonight I hadn't followed through.

This last Tuesday, one of the guests on The Chew was Elizabeth Perkins.  She briefly mentioned she had been diagnosed with Type I diabetes (I believe it was 2005) and all that the diagnosis meant as far as eating changes, etc.  For the guest segment, Elizabeth chatted with Clinton Kelly and they cooked a favorite vegetable dish of Elizabeth's.  It sounded really yummy so I decided to try it tonight.  Aaron grilled steaks and I roasted vegetables and it was a MOST amazing dinner.  The steaks were grilled to perfection (no surprise there - my husband is a master at the grill) and the vegetables came out really, really good.  Not mushy, they had good flavor and a dish I was oh so very glad I tried.

Sorry for the horrible picture.  By the time I thought to take a picture, this was all that was left.  That bowl was full and there were only two of us.  Tell you how good it was?
I never did find the recipe officially posted on The Chew's website so I don't have a source.  A viewer posted the recipe in the comments and she didn't say where she'd found it, either.  I've re-typed it here and if anyone finds the original source of the recipe, please don't hesitate to comment.

Elizabeth Perkin's Roasted Veggie Recipe

1 Medium Onion
1 Sweet Potato
1 Parsnip
2 cups Brussel Sprouts
1 Granny Smith apple
1 Pear
1 cup of tart Cherries (pitted/can use canned)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 cup of Olive Oil
1 tsp. Rosemary
2 tblsp. Balsamic Vinegar
Bearnaise Sauce (Clinton Kelly added this.  It wasn't part of Elizabeth's original, I don't believe.  I
                                                    used this recipe)

Chop the onion, sweet potato, parsnip, brussel sprouts, apple & pear into equal sizes, about 1/4 inch thick.  Add the vegetables & fruit to the pan with oil and begin sauteing.

After the vegetables and the fruit have been softened up (about 5 minutes, maybe a bit more), add the cherries, cinnamon, rosemary & balsamic vinegar.  Saute a few minutes longer until the flavors have blended and the vegetables & fruits are soft.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Transfer the medley into a slightly oiled casserole dish or any other dish you can cook in the oven an dput in the oven for 15 minutes or until gold brown on top.

Serve with bearnaise sauce.

Prepare for your tastebuds to dance the happy, yummy dance.  It's that good!



"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on the occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations."

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!  May your have a blessed and grateful day.


The Fear That Shouldn't Be

There is a 12 almost 13 year old boy living under my roof.  He's not my biological son but I've been his step-mom since he was 5.  C spends most of his free time with me and has for several years now.  My husband works some tough hours so I'm usually "it" when it comes to what he'll do with his free time, chores, even some discipline.  When I first met C, his speech was so impaired he was next to impossible to understand.  His father had been struggling for a couple of years already, working with him to help improve his speech, his temper and everything else that fathers do.  My husband is an amazing father, full of patience and wisdom and not just genuine interest in & love for his son but a genuine "like" of his son.  He thoroughly enjoys his son, every aspect of his little personality and has really enjoyed watching this child of his grow into a very fine young man.

And he is a very fine young man.

A 12 year old fine young man... 

Which, actually, means he's hitting the hormonal SPIKE years and he's not quite as fine as he was but that good, sweet, loving heart still resides in that sprouting up like crazy body of his.  By "not quite as fine as he was" I mean he's hit that point where you're fairly sure most days that he unzipped his head, took his brain out and left it in a box in his dresser.

We say things to him which he conveniently doesn't hear or forgets.  He's given a chore which he promptly turns into a game of some sort, see how long he can waste time and dilly dally around.  Not in some sort of vicious I hate my parents way just...in that 12 year old boy way.

And I'm fighting so hard to not take it personally, to remind myself that he's 12 and this is what he's going to do.  There is this unreasonable fear, though.  It's been crouched low in my mind just waiting to rear its ugly head and I've ignored it for a long time, about eight years.  Eight years since I met him and knew he was going to be a part of my life for the rest of my life. 

My older son, who will be 27 in January, hit the age of 14 and we'd had our "things" before then.  I was always a bit more than strict with him because I was a single mother.  That's the reason I gave myself, anyway.  I was it.  If I let him take over, all was lost so I put down rules and stuck to them mercilessly.  He was always such an amazing kid, too.  Definitely did "boy stuff" but never gave me an inch of worry or one sleepless night.  People would often tell me he was such a joy to be around, I had done such a great job with him and I'd tell them he was born that way - I just taught him the words (please, thank you, etc.).  That is - until he turned 14.  Then, as he was hanging out with boys I'd known for more than half of their lives, they started to get involved with drugs.  Every one of those sweet, funny, brave and somewhat goofy boys went down a road that looked inviting but ended up being scary and dark and has actually since taken a few of them to the grave. 

It was my greatest fear in the flesh.  He had stepped outside of my realm of control into a world I knew absolutely nothing about and I was scared beyond all imagination it would kill him before I could save him.  It took me MANY years - many sleepless nights, countless tears, screaming and anguish before I could admit no matter what I did, I couldn't save him.  All I had was prayer.  At first?  That seemed like absolutely nothing.  I'd prayed to God regarding serious issues, big things in my life before and He never answered the way I had hoped He would.  That made me ridiculously fearful.  What if God's plan for my son's life was for it to end while he was young and I couldn't do anything about it and by praying I made it happen sooner...  Prayer did not give me much comfort at first. 

See what I mean about unreasonable fear?  It's irrational.  It causes you to think things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever but while within its grasp makes all the logical sense you could possibly imagine.

It's debilitating.  It robs you of life, of happiness - of joy.  Why?  Because it turns your face from God's face.  It causes you to look at something other than perfection, sovereignty, power to the nth degree, love and grace and mercy that defy description.

That fear became an idol of my heart.  And here I see it worming its way back into my mind again and if I give it hold, it will worm its way into my heart.  Robbing me of my relationship with God again.  Turning my head.  Tearing my eyes away.

The devil truly is like a roaring lion...always looking to devour...

And he is tricky.  And smart.  And cunning.  And not worth giving one ounce of my attention to.  Don't mistake me - I do not underestimate him.  I do not for one second pretend he is worthless or to be completely discounted.  That's pride of another variety.

Instead, I have to remind myself repeatedly he is there, he is looking for a way in and I need to keep my eyes firmly focused on the One - the ONLY One - who can save me.  And my sons.

My oldest is not a believer and for a long time I blamed myself for that.  I still do on occasion but I have to remind myself - he is an adult.  I have told him the truth and he has to choose for himself.  I did not teach it to him as I should, when he was growing up and that's the part where I struggle.  It's more of beating myself up for not seeing the truth sooner.  I was 35 myself when I came back to Christ, he was already 17 and in a place where he barely wanted anything to do with me at all, let alone go with me to church, etc.

He has, however, long left the drugs, straightened himself out and he purchased his first home last summer.

And I continue to pray...  There IS hope.  I see answered prayer all around me and I know - God rarely works instantaneously.  He does not "perform."  He is not "fixing" us, He is changing us, growing us and that takes work - and our participation.  So long as my son refuses to see God for who He is and to accept Jesus for who He is and what He has done for us, my son will only go so far.  But prayers have been answered - my son no longer involves himself with drugs or those who use them.  He looks at his life and sees the "good" and doesn't want the bad.  For that I am extremely grateful.  And I continue to pray.

So...when that irrational fear for son #2 rears its ugly head, I have to face it.  Head on.  At the time.  And I have to remember what it is and what it can't be allowed to do.  And so I pray.  Pray.  Pray.  I pray because I know God is infinitely wiser than me, stronger than me and I'm already fighting the urge to give up.  Fighting the selfish urge that tells me this child isn't mine, he isn't my responsibility - I don't have to live this way for the next several years.

But I know that is a dark, non-truth.  He IS mine.  I CHOSE to be his step-mother.  I ASKED God for this privilege.  And I did it knowing God would be there for the entire walk and He was the only one I could trust to carry me through, to do what I need to do, am supposed to do and want to do.  I love that sweet, kind hearted boy and I'm looking forward to knowing and loving the strong, caring, godly man he will become.  The years in between are going to drive me a bit batty.  I just need to remember to keep my eyes on Him, not the batty. 

He's worth it.


Sandy. A Name Not Soon Forgotten

Not sure about you but I've been glued to the news - online and on TV for the two weeks, ever since I heard the term "Hurricane Sandy" and saw what they were predicting and then ever since, viewing the devastation to my "hometown area."  Landfall in the United States was, basically, Atlantic City, NJ.  As a Jersey native, I've spent several weeks and weekends at many of those now ruined beaches.  My friends have homes there, family is there...  I have ties to the area that go to birth and my heart has been aching.

What is even more heartwrenching is to read articles, like this one, about those "forgotten" victims of Sandy.  Cuba and Haiti seem to be the hardest hit while Jamaica and the Bahamas also suffered damage but not as devastating.  Areas of the world already poor, already dealing with past hurricanes and earthquakes, all but obliterated by Sandy.
The video and stories of tempers flaring, emergency relief slow and insufficient...it all continues to mount up.  Then, a friend posts an article about another nor'easter expected this week bringing with it definitely not-needed rain, winds and freezing temperatures, sure to create massive misery on top of already existing misery.

My prayers continue, almost constantly.  I don't think I've prayed for anything harder than I have for the people affected by Hurricane Sandy except for my children and my mother when she was ill.  Today I posted on Facebook that I left August 31, 1989 and drove my then 3 1/2 year old son west to Washington in 4 days, put down "roots" and have felt at "home" ever since but after this storm?  I realized just how much of my heart I'd left in New Jersey.  So much of who I am now started in New Jersey.  Almost every lesson I had to learn, I had to learn the hard way and I did it there.

What is disturbing is how many people were not prepared for this storm.  How true is that for all of us, though?  Aaron & I have been saying for years this is the year we want to be prepared - make sure we have a week's worth of food on hand, water on hand, blankets, etc. and keeping our gas tanks at full all the time.  And we don't do it.  If we were to have a significant earthquake, our home would not be prepared.

And I take it further.  How prepared am I to kneel before God, with Jesus as my Advocate and give an accounting of my life.  If that "emergency" were to happen what would be the result?  These thoughts come to me when I have slacked off - slacked off in my prayer, my church attending, my Bible reading and studying.  When I have drifted away from my anchor because He certainly hasn't let go of me.  And I am humbled.  And convicted.  And I come before Him contrite and asking forgiveness.  And He always does... And my heart is overwhelmed again.

How will those people in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland and all other places affected by Sandy I haven't listed prepare now?  What will they do?  How will they look at life differently?  It's usually an overwhelming life-altering moment that gives us pause, makes us take stock, figure out what's important and move in that direction.  That's the short term.  Then, nothing happens for a while and we get that safe feeling again, let things slip, procrastinate...

Until the next nor'easter is forecasted.

How has Sandy changed me?  Besides realizing I am very proud of where I came from, where I grew up and the people who live there, I have realized that my relationship with my Creator needs me to participate more, be present in it.

Here is praying I don't slack off... again...  And even more?  Here is praying the people in New York & New Jersey recover - stronger and better prepared for the next one.  Because it's coming.