Monday, March 28, 2011

Angel #1

I have been thinking about the angels in my life. There are just so many that I had a hard time deciding who I wanted to write about first. I decided to start with an angel from my early childhood. This angel will never know what she means to me because I will probably never run into her again. She played a brief role on the stage of my life, but had a huge impact on me.

I was about 8 years old. Home life was not that great. My father at the time was not a pleasant person to be around, from what I remember. He would come home and we would have to gage what kind of mood he was in. I would try to clean the house and be the best little girl I could be so that he would come home and be happy. Sorry, this story starts off as kind of a downer, but you need to know the whole story so that you can grasp what this angel did for me. This angel was a neighbor. She didn't have any kids my age, but she had younger kids and I loved to go over and play with them. She would have me babysit sometimes. But she took an interest in me for some reason. She would invite me over and teach me about art and poetry. She would have me spend the night and we would paint our nails and do our hair. She taught me how to ride a horse. She was one of those people that was very eccentric and didn't quite fit in, but I LOVED her. She actually reminds me of the main character in the book "The Ladies Auxiliary" by Tova Mirvis. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do. It is one of my favorite books probably because it reminds me of this angel.

Whenever I was with her I felt free and that I could be anything and say anything I wanted. She helped me set free my creative side. She would get exuberant over anything I did, but it felt genuine. My favorite memory was a rainbow I made out of yarn on a piece of paper and then I wrote a poem to go with it. I don't remember the details, I only remember the feelings. How she made me feel important and talented and like I had something special to offer. Another of my favorite memories was of her letting me ride a horse around her back yard. I fell in love with horses after that and tried to draw them, pet them, and ride them any chance I could! She doesn't know it but she shaped so much of what I love today. I love art, poetry, music, to create, and to appreciate the beauty around me in nature, all thanks to her. It became an outlet for me when I didn't feel I could open up and say what I wanted to say.

One day when my father finally lost it, he was throwing furniture all over the house, papers, books, the piano, anything he could get his hands on and was yelling at my mother and throwing things at her, I grabbed my two sisters and my brother and ran to my angel's house. I felt safe there and knew that we would be taken care of. She called the police and kept us entertained while the police took care of the situation.

From her I gained a desire to take an interest in children that seem quiet and introverted, to help them learn how to express themselves through music or art. It is what prompted me to want to become a child psychologist. I never finished my degree, but I have nine children to practice on. :) I try to teach my kids how to create and find their own voice now.

Shortly after that my mom remarried and we moved and I don't know what happened to my angel. I think she moved as well. I pray she received many blessings for being an angel to me in my time of need.

Has this angel ever crossed your path?

Thanks for stopping by. :)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Freezer Meals FRIDAY!

See these two beautiful women? I LOVE these women! Tami Lyman and Jenn Bronson. We decided to get together and do freezer meals. It was a learning process. :) We got together a couple days before and decided on some meals we wanted to make. My suggestion is to use meals that your family already eats so that you aren't introducing something new to them. They won't like it as well. We chose lasagna, chix enchiladas, chix and broccoli casserole, poppyseed chix casserole, then we did a soup base for chix tortilla soup and 6 lbs. of cooked hamburger (I added taco seasoning to mine for tacos, taco soup and nachos), and some chix marinated to grill, and also some chix for burritos. It was marinated in carne asada seasonings.

We gathered our grocery list based on ingredients and then looked online for the best prices. Jenn is a member of this online thingy (love the technical term) that shows you what the deals are in several local grocery stores. Ones in red are "stock up on it" prices. Ones in blue are a good deal but only get it if you need it. Walmart will match any price if you bring in the ad. So we had one person do the shopping at Walmart. We found great prices on chix breasts and hamburger. Hence a lot of chix dishes. :) We want to do more beef recipes next time. Then we just split the bill three ways. We figure we can each take turns doing the shopping and whose house we are cooking at.

We got together Friday morning and started cooking the meat. We discovered that some of the cooking can be done the night before so that we aren't just standing waiting for all the meat to cook. We had 60 lbs of chix and 18 lbs of hamburger and 3 lbs. of Italian sausage. YIKES!

Jenn, who is our health GURU, insisted we drain the hamburger and she even wanted to rinse it but we told her drained was fine. :) Here is all the fat we drained off the hamburger and sausage. Jenn even took paper towels and soaked up more grease. LOL she cracks me up. But thanks to her, we will be healthier. :)

I made lasagnas and the marinades and the enchiladas at the table. We did get some tinfoil pans to freeze them in, but a tip I learned is to put some Saran Wrap in your 9x13 pan and then put your food in it. Freeze it then pull it out by the Wrap and wrap it up and then wrap it in tinfoil. Then when you are ready to cook it, you pull the wraps off and place it back into your 9x13 pan and cook. This saves on pans and space in your freezer. They stack nicely. :)

We had a blast! Great conversation and it only took us 6 hours (with kids and lunch in the midst) to make:
1 meatless lasagna
1 lasagna with sausage
3 ziploc bags of chix marinated for the grill
3 ziploc bags of cooked taco meat (2lbs in each)
1 pan chix enchiladas
1 ziploc bag poppyseed casserole
1 pan chix and broccoli casserole
1 bag Spanish rice
1 bag chix carne asada marinade
2 bags chix tortillas soup base
Next we want to do a stew mix, chix pot pie, lentil soup, cafe rio meat, and some steak marinades. I am going to do some crepes to freeze. They are great for dessert or for putting chix marsala or other things in. 15 meals for $90 ( about $6 a meal) isn't bad for our family size, plus some of them give leftovers so they will last for more than one meal. I am using mine for when my parents come to watch the kids while hubby and I are in Hawaii.
You are welcome, Mom. :D
If you have any tips you would like to share, PLEASE DO! We are still learning. :) If you would like any of the specific recipes we used, shoot me an e-mail and I will send them to you.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Men Are That They Might Have JOY

I have been thinking about this scripture (2 Nephi 2:21) for a few months now. I look around me and see so many people struggling. The concept of THRIVING not just surviving has struck me over and over. How does one thrive amidst all the turmoil? That has been my question. I was studying in 1 Nephi 11 where Nephi is shown the same vision of the Tree of Life as his father, but he receives the meaning to everything in the dream. The tree of life represents the love of God. When Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree he felt "exceedingly great joy" (1 Nephi 8:12) Growing up I always thought that the joy he felt was a result of having completed the journey faithfully and in reaching the tree of life. But there were others who reached the tree and partook of the fruit and felt ashamed and turned away. So what exactly did the fruit represent? Then I started thinking about the love of God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:16-17) These are some of my favorite scriptures. It says so much in just a few verses. First, God is not a spiteful, vengeful God. He loves us so much that He sent his Son to save us, not condemn us. I think a lot of people misunderstand the nature of God. "For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39) It states plainly that God's main focus is to bring us home to have eternal life with him. That means that He will do everything in His power to accomplish His work. In order to do this He prepared the way for us by being willing to sacrifice His Son that we might have a way back. So the Love of God is really the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. What fruits did the sacrifice of Christ provide for us? The atonement which allows us to repent and be forgiven and change. Lehi felt exceedingly great joy when he partook of the "fruit" or the atonement. The atonement covers so many things. It covers our sorrow, our disappointment, offenses that we have suffered at someone else's hands, and the pain from making mistakes ourselves. So that is the key to feeling that joy, not at the end of the journey, but all throughout the journey. We must partake of the "fruit" over and over in our life to feel that joy.

Another thing I have been pondering is nature. I was sitting in the parking lot one time, waiting for one of my children to come out and I had the window rolled down. There was a tree with a slight breeze rustling the leaves. All of a sudden I was filled with such comfort and peace and it struck me that the tree was feeling joy. I could feel happiness emanating from it. Then I pictured the birds and how joyful they seemed when they were looking for food or building a nest or singing their song outside my window in the morning. They hop from place to place and just exude joy. It seems to come so easy to them. Think of the majestic mountains standing strong and tall and immovable. Don't they seem to radiate happiness and peace? Why? How? It got me thinking of a phrase I heard in relation to the creation. "That they might feel joy in filling the measure of their creation." The things God created are filling the measure of their creation. The tree was created to stand and grow and provide fruit. It doesn't fight against this, it is doing what it was created to do, no complaining, no murmuring. It just does it. And in doing so it feels joy. When my will is in line with Heavenly Father's I have felt peace, and comfort and joy. He knows what is best for me, what I alone can accomplish. Why do I fight it sometimes? Maybe I think I know better, that maybe God just doesn't understand how hard it really is. But when I turn it over to Him and try to do what He has asked of me, I feel JOY. Not just a fleeting moment of pleasure, but joy felt deep inside my whole being. I need to fill the measure of my creation in order to feel true joy as nature exhibits all around me. I need to let go and trust that God will not lead me astray. He is working to bring to pass MY immortality and MY eternal life. Just as the Savior wrought the atonement for each one of us individually, so too is God working for each one of us as individuals. He didn't say that he was working to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of MEN or of Mankind as a general rule. He said "of MAN", singular. One person at a time.
Just my thoughts on how to THRIVE and find Joy throughout the journey.
Thanks for stopping by. :)