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US Virgin Islands

I woke up this morning in a pre-set temperature room and went downstairs to a pot of coffee made minutes prior to rising. I turned on the news and got instantly updated on how Hurricane Irma is making her way through Florida and being downgraded as she goes. I am so thankful our friends all over the Sunshine state are safe and sound, many are going to have hours without power and days of cleaning up, but it could have been so much worse.

Except it was so much worse in parts of our country. The US Virgin Islands were hit in the very way that the media has been warning us about; St. John and St. Thomas are completely devastated with no power on the islands and no way to get to them by air. These tourist destinations are demolished with no resources. Now the problem is safety from downed power lines and fallen trees and looting.

So what can I do, as I sit with my laptop battery fully powered even though it’s plugged in, and plenty of food for lunch and dinner for today and days beyond? I can share. I’ve got a close friend whose brother lives in St. John and he is on the Board for the Salvation Army for the Virgin Islands, and is part of the coordinated effort between the Red Cross and Salvation Army. He assures us that money donated to http://vi.salvationarmy.org/virginislands/ will go directly to the aid of these islands. We have made a donation, honestly without even sacrificing a bit of the safety and security I feel in my home this morning. Can you do the same?

I am open to hearing of, and responding to, more ideas of how we can help these desperate people. Please read the accompanying article, it explains the current situation so well. And please, join me in prayer for the people of USVI.

http://vi.salvationarmy.org/virginislands/

http://mashable.com/2017/09/10/hurricane-irma-us-virgin-islands/#nsNyUQdHkaqu

 

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Be Expectant

 

pedestrians-400811_960_720I was meeting a friend at Starbucks this morning. I got there first, but assumed she was waiting inside so as I entered the coffee shop I searched the room for a familiar face. I was met with two smiles from different sides of the room, and found myself returning the silent greetings, which felt pretty great, and it occurred to me that I often enter a room without expecting to recognize anyone, no scanning the room, no eye contact. I know people who grew up in this town and fully expect to see someone they know every time they leave the house, so it’s like a mystery each time; who will I see today? My second grade teacher? An old boyfriend?

I have moved many times over the years, and usually assume that I will not know a soul when I go to the grocery store or even be recognized as a regular customer at the dry cleaners, it just doesn’t happen. Every now and then someone will recognize me and it throws me for a second. I don’t want to make too big of a deal of this, but when you have lived in as many cities as I have, you don’t take a familiar face for granted, and the fact that someone would take the time to acknowledge me is like handing me a gift, because there have been times in life when I could go many days without making much of a connection.

So back to this morning. I walked in and looked up, fully expecting to see my friend and connected, however briefly, with two new humans and it changed the way that I felt. It was a simple reminder that perhaps I need to look up and expect to see someone in each and every room I walk into.

Review of Sun Basket Food Delivery

 

sun

I will admit that I kind of turned my nose up to the Hello Fresh’s of the world, I cook all the time, I don’t need anybody sending me deconstructed meals to prepare when I can buy it locally from the store, right? But then I read about Sun Basket, a California based company that only sends organic ingredients that are non-GMO and clean. I looked into it more and found the recipes are chef-driven, that you can request special diets like paleo, gluten free or vegetarian and they had a special price for first timers. I decided to try it.

When I signed up, I still had a couple of kids in the house, so I ordered three meals for four people and I got to choose the specific dinners from about eight choices for the following week. The food arrived on a Wednesday, packed well with dry ice for the meats and all ingredients were fresh. A booklet with easy to follow recipes comes inside the box, and it has all the recipes that were offered for that week, so you could make something else yourself that you didn’t order. Each recipe tells you how long it should take to prepare (and tends to be accurate) and all the nutritional info you could want.

How does it taste? We have really enjoyed most of the recipes. None have been bad, but because I love to cook, I have a lot of my own recipes, and I quickly learned it is best for me to choose food that I don’t normally cook; Thai, Vietnamese and Indian have been our favorites so far. I have noticed there is little to no dairy in each meal, and very little gluten.  After the first two deliveries, I decided to modify my order and found that it was fine to drop down to two paleo meals for two people each week, about half of what I was doing originally. This seems to fit our lifestyle better, and the cost comes out to about $25 per meal (including shipping).

Bottom line: we are going to continue using Sun Basket because it is a good way for me to experiment with different recipes that reflect the qualities we want in our food, and we can know the nutritional information of what we are eating. It’s a good feeling to know for sure that you have everything you need to pull together a quick dinner and it is fun to try some new ideas.

It looks like they have another special for new customers. Please let me know if you try it!

https://try.sunbasket.com/?offer=A-LQSEM35&SCID=BCPC&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Brand%20-%20Sun%20Basket:FullExpansion&utm_content=Sun%20Basket%20-%20Promo&utm_term=sun%20basket%20coupon&akd=81913627378110+kwd-39633923759+c

sbasket_1417562430_280

 

How Can I Help?

Powerful four words to ask right now, in light of the flooding in Houston. I am tempted to wait and watch and see what is needed over time, and who is responding and how. But I am setting that desire to do what is best aside, and I’m going to just do something today. Anything. I’m going to share a link at the end of this post with organizations we can give to today to help our neighbors. I plan to donate to the Texas Diaper Bank because I cannot imagine the stress of needing diapers when you are displaced.

About ten years ago my family’s home was hit by a tornado, our house was marked as Uninhabitable for several months, and we received less damage than most. Many lessons were learned during this time, but one of the most profound was that our community cared. Within just a few days, we were invited into a church to take whatever was needed for our family; sheets, towels, toothpaste and ibuprophen were among the items we walked away with that morning. But more than the physical needs, we left that building knowing that our community wouldn’t let us fall. A few days later a local organization invited us to their warehouse to take whatever clothes we needed for the upcoming winter season. Humbled and grateful, we accepted coats for our three children from the very organization we had been giving to for years.

Another lesson? Wherever you are headed at the time of a crisis, you will arrive sooner than expected. We watched many marriages fail within 24 months of the storm hitting our homes. If your marriage is suffering and a big storm comes from no where, it is going to be easier to walk away than ever before. If you are considering bankruptcy and that storm hits, the decision will probably feel more like a necessity. The contrast is true as well, if your marriage is strong when a storm comes, you lean on each other in ways you never needed to before and you walk out of it more resilient than ever. And if you are living within a financial margin and that tornado comes, you can handle it and just about anything that comes your way in the future.

Know this, a storm will come. I don’t believe any of us are immune. The best thing we can do for ourselves is prepare, be strong in whatever ways we deem necessary, and the best thing we can do for others is respond with prayer or resources or donations. Let’s show our neighbors that we care about them. If you make a donation, please mention it in the comments and tell us why you chose the organization you did.

Here’s the link: https://www.sbnation.com/2017/8/27/16211866/how-to-help-houston-after-hurricane-harvey

Grilled Peaches

Peaches

We were just in North Carolina, dropping our youngest off at college and had to shop at the local Farmers Market for some fresh fruit and veggies for our girl before we left. We ended up driving peaches and blackberries as big as your head halfway across the country because they were too incredible to pass up!

Last night we had grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Grilling them just intensifies the sweetness, and adding a little butter and sugar doesn’t hurt at all!

Grilled Peaches

Turn on your grill and set the heat high. You can place the peaches directly on the grates, but I like to use a grill pan. Place the pan on the grill while heating.

Cut the peaches in two halves and remove the pit. I don’t bother to peel them, but you could.  Brush some oil (I use grapeseed) on the inside and sprinkle a little brown sugar and cinnamon on each. Please the peaches on the hot pan or grates and shut the grill top, allow to cook for 4-5 minutes and turn them over to cook another 3-4. Remove from the heat and add a pat of butter to each middle. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and savor the taste of summer!

 

A Family Shaped by Grace

morlandOur youngest child will be leaving for college in about eight weeks, going to a school more than 1000 miles away and we are so excited for her! We helped our girl choose where to go, but it was ultimately her decision, and the school she chose is more expensive than most of the others she considered. This detail didn’t concern us much, because we have given our children a set amount of money for college and they are responsible for the rest, by way of scholarship or sweat. No loans.
Over the last few weeks our daughter has talked a great deal about money and wondering aloud how much is enough for her to make over the summer as a full-time CNA at a retirement community. It finally occurred to me to listen to what she was really saying, and realize that she wasn’t sure of the details of her part in paying for college. We had gone over it more than once in the past, but now that it’s getting close, she needed more information and lots of encouragement.
My guy and I sat down and went through all the numbers last night and you could see the relief wash over Georgia’s face. It wasn’t as bad as she had thought, she was going to be just fine. Uncomfortable, but fine. This little experience reminded me of something I’ve been reading.
I just read a newly released book called A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland. The writer is a sober alcoholic whose addiction and family history affected the quality of their family for years. Over time, with the help of a Christian mentor, Morland learns the importance of leaning on Christ for what he needs, and pouring out grace to those he loves most. This is shown in many practical ways; reacting with love and acceptance over anger and bitterness, choosing not to be offended, and being actively present in conversations, asking questions with real interest and to gain understanding, not information.
The book didn’t necessarily contain new concepts for me; it is Bible based and built on ancient themes, but it was a good reminder to me that I need to be the safest place possible for my people to be themselves, and I need to listen carefully to what is being said, and what is not. It also confirmed a suspicion I have had for years that in order to love well, we must fight against making gods out of our loved ones, trust God to be who He promises and allow our family members to be imperfect, messy humans.
I wish I had realized sooner what our daughter needed from us, simple information and reassurance. There was no need to be evasive or to reprimand her for not getting it before, our job is to love on her and give her what she needs, not necessarily what she wants. I think this book came to me at a good time, I am thankful for the opportunity to gain more tools in equipping this family to be as strong as possible.
To order: https://www.amazon.com/Family-Shaped-Grace-People-Matter/dp/0800727959/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496953619&sr=8-1&keywords=a+family+shaped+by+grace

Rubiks Cube

 

rubiks

There are times going through life that something occurs and you know that you will not be able to return to what was ever again; you move cross country or leave an important relationship and can feel the glacial shift deep within your self. It’s like a Rubik’s cube and a new row of matching colors has just been lined up; a feeling of satisfaction comes over you because you are a big step closer to the goal.

In our family, a whole side of the cube turned over and got matched this past weekend: our youngest child graduated from high school. I distinctly remember the morning of the first day of kindergarten for our oldest, I wrote a letter to the three little people in our house, explaining the fact that life would be changing from here on out, we would be on the schedule of the school system, with an influx of papers and projects and tests. Our focus moved to the daily muddling through with a very distant goal.

Somehow those three little kids stretched out and became taller and smarter, they started to think for themselves and visualizing their own goals and our house is becoming bigger and quieter by the day. The chaos has changed to small bursts and been replaced with long stints of near silence. In the most practical sense, I have worked myself right out of a job.

When our first two children graduated and started moving towards their next steps I had a deep sadness and already started to dread how it would feel to have the last one move on, but so far I feel nothing but excitement for the future. Their future. Because this isn’t about me. For years they were an extension of me, hanging off of me and looking to me to see how to react to life, but now they have stronger legs than mine and they know how to respond, even if an occasional call to Mom or Dad needs to be made.

 The part that is about me? The Rubiks Cube that keeps getting closer to being completed?  It is a life filled with memories and experiences that have helped to make me who I am, and I can’t wait to see what color of the cube we work on next.

 

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