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Archive for March, 2008

Ahhhh. I love this time of year. When it’s still freezing cold, and snow is still on the forecast, but we know without a doubt that within the span of several short weeks, warmer weather will finally be here. It’s the time of year when my menu starts a subtle shift and I break out the fresher choices. Fruit salads, crunchy veggies, and cold pasta. This is a recipe I found that is wonderfully light, easy, and fresh.

Here goes:

Broccoli Pasta Salad

1/2 lb. penne pasta

1 C. low-fat mayonnaise

1/2 C. sugar (I use 2/3 that amount in honey)

1/4 C. apple cider vinegar

2 bunches broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 lb. bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

1/4 C. parmesan cheese, grated

*Fresh Italian parsley for garnish, optional

Cook pasta according to directions on package.

While pasta is cooking, combine mayonnaise, sugar (or honey), and vinegar in small bowl. Whisk together until well-blended and set aside.

Quickly rinse pasta in cool water; drain well and place in large serving bowl.

Combine broccoli florets and bacon with pasta. Gently toss with mayonnaise dressing and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Cover and chill overnight. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley.

*Serves 6

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Little Cathedrals

A dear friend gave me a copy of this story. It has no credits to the author attached, so there is no way to properly credit the writer, but it was such a great piece, I had to post it. It is definitely worth the read.

 

*****

I’m invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk in to the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this?

Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?”

I’m a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please.”

I was certain that these were the hand that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude-but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going…she’s going…she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner , celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean.

 

My unwashed hair was pulled up in a clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.”

 

It was a book of the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

 

In the days ahead I would read – no devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

  • No one can say who built the cathedrals – we have no record of their names.
  • These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
  • They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
  • The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

 

         A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird in a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it. ” And the workman replied, “Because God sees.” I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall int o place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is to small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”

         At time, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life, It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

         I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing o sacrifice to that degree.

         When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it there.”

         As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

    God bless you as you build your Cathedrals!

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    Stop lights? What’s up with that?

    I know. Most of us don’t view anything relating to traffic as ‘sane’.

    But just think about it for a minute. If the lights weren’t there, particularly the red one, what would happen? I think we all know the answer and it ain’t pretty. I suppose in my strange-ness I enjoy a good, long stop light. Why? Well…let’s see…let me name a few reasons:

    1. How many times as a busy mom do you get to sit in a semi-reclined position with a radio and cupholder within easy reach?

    2. How many times do you get to do the above with all of your children firmly strapped in five-point harnesses?

    3. How many chances do you get in a typical day to just sit there, doing absolutely nothing (except telling your kids to stop hitting each other, and, please, not to lose their gum in the car or mommy will be in trouble. *But remember, they are still strapped in their seats. Don’t be afraid. They can’t hurt you.)

    4. And this is the best one. How often do you have the chance to do ALL of the above while under the command of the local law enforcement, by penalty of law?

    I trust I have made my point. So, I encourage you to find those ‘stop light’ moments in each of your days that provides a bit of enforced rest or moments of laughter and sanity to help us stay sane in this insane world.

    So, next time I’m sitting at a stop light and I look over and see a woman in the next lane with a tea cake in one hand and cucumber slices on her eyes, I’ll know it’s you.

    “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

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