Looking at these files. It's more than paperwork. It's lives etched with sorted pasts.
Eyes eager and hearts bruised. Second chances.
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
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, 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.
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.
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 life...to 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
616. broccoli sprouting
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
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 Year....my 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 ...
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.
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. Yep...it 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 Publix...my 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.