Monday, January 25, 2010

Savoring Grace

As we become curators of our own contentment on the simple abundant path...we learn to savor the small with a grateful heart. Sarah Ban Breathnach

636.  a shoe-shopping trip with granddaughter

637.  moments  in the kitchen with daughter

638.  homemade pizza with my parents 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Capturing the Light

i spent a few moments with my amazing granddaughter yesterday.
just she and i.
in the yard.
the weather was mild.
the sun was bright.
she told me.
covering her eyes and saying "hot".
the kittens followed her around.
we blew bubbles.
she discovered her daddy's old toy dump truck.
and loved it.
she rolled it to me.
i rolled it back.
over and over.
the world stopped.
my worries left.
simple moment, yet so memorable.
i captured the light.
it dawned on me.
it is important to take time for the little things.
one day they will be the most important things.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New territory

Setting out. 
Venturing into new and unfamiliar territory. 
The unknown can frighten me.
Looking at these files. 
It's more than paperwork. 
It's lives etched with sorted pasts.
Eyes eager and hearts bruised. 
Second chances.
Common ground.

I humbly ask for your thoughts and prayers as I begin teaching a group of young people...actually high school dropouts...starting tomorrow. They are taking a GED class to prepare them for the GED test. 
I am nervous and I am sure they are, too. We really are more alike than different though. Searching for purpose. Belonging. A second chance. I have been there and still go there at times. Don't we all? 

To me that is grace...receiving another chance.  And that is all I need. 

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 
-2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I look to a day when people will not be judged

 by the color of their skin,

 but by the content of their character. 

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Eggplant Italiana

Although reportedly my ancestors were from Scotland, Ireland and Wales I like to believe that somewhere there is a little Italian blood in the mix. I mean my name is Gina, after all! And there's the obvious fact (at least to my family)  that I could eat Italian every day of my life. 

I played it safe for years. Cooking and serving up spaghetti and sometimes lasagna to my family and friends. Many a starving teen from our neck of the woods have filled up on Gina's specialty spaghetti and meatballs. And  that was about as creative as it got. 

But things are changing. I have stepped out. I am getting brave, risky, and trying out new Italian recipes along with my budding culinary expertise of a daughter.

Last week we concocted a delicious and simple Italian meal for a dish we call Eggplant Italiana.  I wish I had a picture to share, but instead I will provide you with some nice Italian music. And, of course the recipe....

Eggplant Italiana

eggplant, peeled and cubed
onion, chopped 
bell pepper, chopped
cherry tomatoes, chopped 
garlic clove, minced
olive oil

Sautee above ingredients in olive oil. Pour your favorite sauce (I use Del Monte ... it's cheap) over this mixture and heat well. Serve over your favorite pasta. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top before serving. Enjoy with a green salad, fresh garlic bread, and your favorite beverage.

Sunday in the country

Sunday in the country at my parents' cozy home
 gathered 'round with family
a sister, a brother, our children,
 nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, grandparents 
good food, sweet tea, sweet times, and bare feet.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti on my heart

Here are more photos sent by my friend. Like so many others, safely tucked away in our corner of the world, I can't help but think of these precious people who have lost so much. Overwhelming. 

 Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Helping Haiti

The situation in Haiti is desperate. The impoverished Caribbean nation was rocked by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale on Tuesday and the ensuing devastation has been of dreadful proportions. 

A young college girl from our hometown is unaccounted for at  this hour. She had just arrived in Haiti with a team from her university to do mission work, I heard. 

I received some pictures taken with a cell phone from a Trinidadian friend today. Images etched in my mind and especially my heart. Unforgettable. 

I cry for this nation. This people. And I am feeling so helpless. What can I do? My feeble prayers, although uttered with good intentions, need hands put to them. I want to help somehow. 

I did a little research and these are my favorite charities that are helping out with relief. 
Please consider giving of your resources. It will make a difference.

American Red Cross
Doctors Without Borders
Compassion International

Monday, January 11, 2010

Some days we forget to look around us...

Some days we can't see the joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see

It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for

Look beyond ourselves, there's so much sorrow
It's way too late to say, I'll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth
We're so long overdue

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And every day we hope for
What we still can't see

It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for

Even with our differences
There is a place we're all connected
Each of us can find each others love

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see

It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more
There's so much to be thankful for
Josh Groban

For everything

Raggedy Ann and Andy made by my mother, stitched with love.

       1000 Gifts thankful list continues ....

626. a visit from my first best friend

627. leftovers 

628. laughing hysterically with my daughter

629. holding hands with my husband

630. playing with Malli 

631. old toys played with once more 

632. sweeping 

633. water

634. talking on the phone with my boys

635. apples and peanut butter ... together

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything. 
Ephesians 5:20

Friday, January 8, 2010

A beautiful mess

I have an amazing husband and precious family. They know I need to cry. They even supply the roll of absorbent paper towels. Messy.

At the risk of sounding like some pitiful, self-absorbed, whining, middle-aged basket case, I tell you it has been that kind of day, er week, really.

Unorganized.  Messy. Sticky. Intertwined. No beginning. No end. Unpredictable.

I will spare you the details, but let's just say after crying my self into a severe migraine things are still not much better. There is still the mess. The clutter.

Processing life and its twists and turns can be overwhelming at times. Accepting that most of life is uncontrollable truly unnerves and frustrates this obsessive-compulsive personality.

So after tears shed, words heard, fears revealed, hands held, and long embraces I emerge once again on these wobbly legs. To stand. Among the mess. 

Life isn't perfect. 
But Love is.

I decided I am having company tonight. An invitation. And I am not picking up any of the mess before the guest arrives. 

Everything is sprawled out. 
The ugly mess.

 I invite Love into my home. 

Take residence. 

Have free run of this house. 

Make yourself welcome. 

Make yourself at home.

in this beautiful mess. 

I John 4:18

Monday, January 4, 2010


Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything 
that happens to you, knowing that every step forward
 is a step toward achieving something bigger and better
 than your current situation.

I went back to the gym today. It has been awhile. When I logged into the blasted computer, it even reminded me how long it had been. Sometimes I despise technology!

See, I know how important exercise is. I really love it once I get there and it makes me  feel so much better physically and mentally. It's just a matter of sticking to it...getting into the daily routine of doing it. 

They say three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.

Well, that's my challenge. To stick to this exercise regimen for four weeks, long enough to make it automatic. Like brushing my teeth. 

Reminds me of how my attitude of gratitude needs to get back in shape, too.
I know you will agree, its a lot easier to feel thankful when everything is going smoothly and you are handed blessings. But what about those times (and they seem too often for me lately) when we are faced with ongoing trials and challenges. You know...debt, unemployment, depression, relationship troubles, illness, etc?

Well, again a daily commitment...a routine. 

I didn't go to the gym to show off my new running shoes. No, I went because I need to make this an integral part of my firm up my muscles, tone up and trim down, get this heart muscle going so I can enjoy this life and not sit on the sidelines. 

So, along with this new physical workout I recommit to being more aware of the blessings in my life. Making it a daily practice.

And the 1000 gifts list continues....

612. clear sky

613. warm, blazing fire

614. warm, worn bedroom shoes

615. socks

616. broccoli sprouting

617. sweat

618. heart pumping

619. crushed ice

620. food to cook for family

621. smile from a stranger

622. unharvested cotton field

623. phone call from oldest son

624. love note text  from husband

625. a dust ruffle for daughter's bed found on sale

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Two for One

I made some oatmeal raisin cookies. I just had to answer the call to make one more naughty thing before "D" (diet) day...which starts at, well, tomorrow!

I had oatmeal cookies on the brain all day, well, really since last night. See, I was in Publix...the only supermarket worthy of being called super in my book, when I happened upon their wonderful buy Two for One display. Each week they offer name brand products...things you really, actually will use and want at two for the price of one. Love it. One of the many items in this weeks' offer was Quaker Oatmeal in the round cardboard box...really, is there any other? I tossed two of these beauties in the buggy. And later, tossing in my dreams were delicious homemade oatmeal cookies.

This afternoon, husband drove out deep in the forest, well it is way out ... even more isolated that we are ... to get some firewood. He didn't have to actually chop any because my sweet parents gave us some from their stash. Ahhh....the first noted blessings of the New generous parents and free firewood. But, wait I can't stop there. My mother sent home some freshly-baked oatmeal cookies ... only two, strangely.

I got to thinking... how funny that she made oatmeal cookies today and I have been wanting some all day. Hmmm...great minds think alike, I guess. Well, since two measley oatmeal cookies were not enough to satisfy this one and I really wanted to offer some to my husband and lone child left at home I proceeded to  get out the two for one oatmeal, mixing bowls, hand-held beater and whip up some of my own.

They turned out pretty good and I must say they are even more delicious with a glass of organic milk by the fire. Two for one. One for two. Whatever. Eat to your heart's delight.

Mmmm...this makes winter almost tolerable. Almost.

Here's the recipe ...

Oatmeal Cookies 

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup Quaker Oats
1/4 cup chopped pecan
1/4 cup raisins

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In mixer bowl beat butter for 30 seconds; add sugars and beat til fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, beating til well combined. Stir in oats, pecans and raisins. Drop by spoonfuls on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. 

City Life

Just in an attempt to even things out, to redeem the whole restaurant experience, we went out to eat last night. And afterwards, we went to the grocery store. Both experiences were moderately pleasant, although I still can not figure out why someone sitting next to me must gag or throw up while I am attempting to enjoy my meal. happened again. Fortunately though, no one pushed their buggy into my heels or shared personal tidbits of information while I shopped. So overall, it was an enjoyable evening...even if we did have to drive 120 miles to get it.

Dear, sweet husband of twenty-four years has it figured out. He knows his girl has to have a little bit of city infusion once in a blue moon, and well, it really was a blue moon this past week. So, I got lucky!
We high-tailed it out of here and drove 60 miles to the nearest town with more than five restaurants and even a Publix Grocery Store. Hey, this man knows how to please his woman. After a lovely Mexican meal, (if you can call it lovely with the child choking on her burrito tossed in there), and a stroll through personal favorite shopping experience, we put the groceries in the back of the Equinox and threw caution to the wind. (the temperatures were in the low 30s so there was no chance of the organic milk going all organic on us)
Next, we bought tickets to see the 9:00 showing of AVATAR in 3-D (oldest son's suggestion)
Because we had a good forty-five minutes before showtime, we even got to walk through Target...another fun adventure for this retail-deprived gal.
After the movie, (which was better that I thought it would be although it gave me a weird headache) we drove 60 miles home, unpacked the groceries, and called it a night. City life is exhausting.