Saturday, February 10, 2018

Fancy Milkshakes and Alterations

Last year, our family word and resolution was Fix.

After 365 days, we fixed a few things. Guess what, things continue to need fixing.

I have a blouse with a button missing and the thread hook which closes the back of my blouse is very loose. I have a black work skirt that needs the serged hem repaired. I have a pair of beloved jeans that need a patch.

I've tried to fix all three with my sewing skills. Don't have a matching button. Don't really like doing those thread loops. I don't have a serger and the iron-on patches just don't stay ironed on.

I need help. Where do you find someone who can just do simple repairs? Not alterations. Not tailoring. Just a few fixes.

Those spots are typically only open during the day. The ones I've found that are either close to my home, work or somewhere in between require cash. You know who doesn't have cash? Me, the person who works at a bank.

I want to wear that blouse, that skirt, those jeans. I like those three clothing items. Yet, I can't find the time in any of my four parts on any given day to get them repaired.

I've been wearing jeans quite a bit to work because I've been at our campus where jeans are allowed. I love wearing jeans in the fall and winter. I get to wear my boots. I get to wear my blankets (scarves and wraps) and I get to wear jackets. It's so easy getting dressed in the morning when I get to put on jeans.

Except when you keep trying to put on the pair that needs patching.

Today, while Camille had a birthday party to go to for a gymnastics teammate, Caroline and I went to the farmer's market. My friend Sue joined us in the adventure. Yes, we wanted to get carrots and other in-season vegetables, but we also had a mission.

Fancy milkshakes.

Honeysuckle Tea Time had a pop-up at a floral shop and accepted pre-orders for lavender shortbread milkshakes. I ordered my $10 milkshake -- yes, $10 -- during a fourth part from the week.

After dropping off Camille, picking up Sue and finding a parking place, we walked over to the farmer's market and checked in for our milkshake.

With a Girl Scout trefoil cookie, mini cupcake, teeny tiny meringue, piece of pink chocolate and a candy bracelet on top, we had a shake. It had fresh whipped cream, edible glitter and a lavender flavor and it was delicious. Lactose intolerance aside, I enjoyed the shake.

So did Caroline.

So did Sue.

The woman making and selling the shakes also makes the most beautiful cakes. A basic base with toppings ranging from edible confetti to succulents (not edible). Her work is art. I follow her on Instagram and oh and ah when I see the creations.

What talent.

What a gift.

Sometimes I wonder what my talent is, what is my creative gift. I do know how to sew, but rarely do. I put together photo books quite well, but always seem to be a few books behind (still have not finished Chris' senior year of high school -- he's a junior in college now). I love to cook and bake, but rarely carve out the time to really cook and bake. I mean, I get dinner knocked out and throw together appetizers for parties, but I would love to spend the time making a showstopper dessert a la The Great British Baking Show.

I write on this blog, but wish I wrote more. (Oh, there's a book in me, I know it.)

Pinterest can be a motivation killer as much as it can be a motivator. Who can reach those standards? Who has the time? Who has the supplies?

I rarely compare myself to others, but after watching that woman design those cakes and make the shakes I wonder why I can't just do that.

Stop talking, start doing was a family resolution a few years ago. I did start working out more that year, changed my eating habits and started writing again. But, I still have things that I talk about and don't do.

With all the planning I do to achieve fourth parts, I wonder why I don't plan for these big things I want to achieve. I know I'm in a stage of life that requires attention to learning multiplication and making extreme weather shoeboxes --- as well as making sure tuition and apartment rent are paid on time -- but sometimes I want to write and write and write. Or, thrift shop to find goods for our house. Or, paint rooms in our house. Or, re-do the bathrooms and kitchen.

Instead, I keep it real for now. I write when I can. I thrift when I can.

I have other things to do -- like get these clothes to a fixer, spend time with a dear friend and drink a fancy milkshake.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Bad Broccoli and Compassion

I plan meals. On the weekend, I check the calendar for the upcoming week and see what activities impact my available time in the kitchen. If G has games, I might 'cook' grilled cheese sandwiches for the girls. If I travel for work one day, I might do a slow cooker meal the night before. I am pretty proud of my mealbr planning skills.

Until the broccoli goes bad. Or an empty carton is left in the pantry.

So when bowties and broccoli is the meal for Thursday and pulling out the broccoli from the crisper reveals some goopy brown gel stuff on top of the broccoli . . . well, bowties now need another veggie.

Oh, no.

Bell peppers and spinach found in the other crisper. Grape tomatoes on the counter. Whew. A quick few chops with a saute result in a bowties and melange of vegetables on the table.

Call me Giada or Ina or Nigella or dare, I write, Martha?

Cut up some apples and we've got a meal.

Not my greatest performance, but it got done. Fourth part planning can sometimes not work in your favor, but part of that planning requires a little dancing and adjusting, right? We can all recall the adage 'best laid plans' and reflect on God's message to us of His plans no matter how much we try and plan.

I have my days down to a minute-by-minute schedule. I carry a massive spiral-bound planner that has a calendar by month and by day. Our family calendar hangs inside the pantry door. I have a work calendar on my phone. And, we have a schedule for our mornings that isn't on a calendar but is burned onto our brains.

I'm up around 6 a.m.-ish (OK, more like 6:20 a.m.). I finish up the girls' lunches (usually make a sandwich) and start breakfast. I open up blinds and turn off outdoor lights. Then, I begin the wake-up routine.

'Good morning.'

'Time to wake up.'

I take out the pre-selected outfits and place them on their beds. I gather shoes and jackets to put out by the backpacks. I put the lunchboxes in the backpacks. I check on breakfast.

Round two of wake-up calls.

'Girls, get up.'

'Let's go.'

I help the girls do their hair. The girls sit and eat breakfast. We do our devotion. They finish eating while I do my first required morning activity -- work out.

I say good-bye to the girls and G and help them get out the door.

I then clean up the kitchen and pick up after the people who've just left -- make sure lights are turned off and all things put away.

Off to the second required activity of each and every morning -- my devotion. I've done Jesus Calling, read Jen Hatmaker, followed read the Bible in a year plans and emailed blog posts. Currently, I am reading Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way and it is hard. I can only read a chapter a morning and some days, I've only been able to read a partial chapter. It's not because I run out of time, but because I run out of breaths and tears. Her writing is powerful. It's deep. It requires re-reads. I have to pause and think. Really think. Even when she references a single Bible verse, I need to read the surrounding verses to fully grasp the content.

It seems each morning as I read through 17 chapters (18 total with an epilogue, too), I found a statement or thought I needed to share with someone I knew. A friend going through cancer treatment, a dear college friend (who also happened to go with me one evening to see Ann speak) or a colleague who has a different political perspective and viewpoint than I.

(More and more I believe Oprah when she told me many years ago that if you think of someone reach out to them. Call, email, text, send an article clipping or, in my case, refer to something Ann wrote.)

We've so much trouble going on in our country today. We could blame it on the current administration and current policies, but that blame feels short-sighted -- even though everyone who knows me how I fee about our current administration and attempts at new policies. We tell each other we are praying for our country as if that marks us as something special -- a badge of honor, if you will. I know that there are many, many people who do indeed pray for our country so please don't believe I doubt individual prayers. There are many of us who write letters and emails, plus make calls to our elected officials. Some of us make donations to causes we believe in who lobby on our behalf. We do a lot of activities to counteract the trouble we perceive and believe to be a real, clear and present danger. We do a lot of talking to offset others thoughts on what trouble means to them.

It's a lot like finding bad broccoli in your vegetable crisper. Where are the fresh vegetables? Where is the celebration of finding something that will work in a meal? Why do we focus on the goopy bad?

How about we agree on what I read and re-read and read again in chapter 17 of The Broken Way. How about we talk about and do activities around what Jesus did -- show compassion? Wait, not just show, do. He was compassion.

When you take a deep dive on compassion and ignore the clock as to what time you should leave for work, your first part of the day takes over any other part of your day.

Dictionary definition --  a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Synonyms -- grace, mercy, tenderness

'Com' meaning together, 'pati' meaning to suffer.

Matthew 9:36, which Ann references in chapter 17, reads 'When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.' At this point in His ministry, Jesus had just called up Matthew into service, healed quite a few people and even addressed fasting. He had been busy. He had been traveling and preaching. After verse 36, he told his disciples the need for more workers to help in the harvest.

And, then He gave His disciples the authority to drive out evil and heal. Jesus saw the need for helpers if His message of healing and the need for His healing was to get out and about.

He showed His disciples how to have compassion. He showed the people grace, mercy and tenderness. He could alleviate the immediate suffering and as we all know, the lifelong suffering.

Ann asks her readers how can we learn compassion. She goes on to write that compassion requires co-suffering. It requires us to be communed in the presence of God. Compassion hurts. It requires we 'crawling in under the skin of someone else and connecting to their hearts like it's yours.'

Compassion is the solution. 'Compassion isn't merely a vague sense -- but a feeling so strong that it causes you to bend. It shapes your body, your life, into a response.'

How can we come to a place of compassion and not criticizing opinions and beliefs? How can we demonstrate compassion with others who don't share our viewpoint? How can we be compassionate? I bet it doesn't involve yelling, name calling and tweeting lots of pointed comments.


(I'm a sinner. I'm saved.)

(I've received His mercy and grace.)

(Ever grateful for compassion.)

As Ann writes, 'Compassion can feel like the right thing when it involves a donation. But when there's been a violation of your rights. Compassion can feel like degradation.'

Like bad broccoli that was just waiting to be used as a fresh vegetable to save a weeknight meal.

Jesus' compassion is just waiting to save.