I sometimes spend a little more time than necessary surfing the internet. But hey – don’t we all? I tend to think though, that it’s like I’ve been unleashed in a giant bookstore or library for hours at a time; what can’t I learn with […]
Month: April 2014
With age, you start thinking. Becoming more introspective, I suppose. You have a life’s worth of experience and events, good and bad. Much more so than in your teens or twenties, you start looking over the decisions and the choices you’ve made, and wondering what you could or should have done differently.
Or if you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Because, sometimes, you’re exactly where you don’t want to be.
This was all too clear to me yesterday. On what was seemingly a beautiful summer day at the lake, was also somebody’s last day here on this earth. I was there when it happened.
I don’t want to be insensitive to the tragedy that took place yesterday, but something like that impacts you. It makes you double-check your priorities and want to right the wrongs in your life.
A young man went swimming in the lake with his friends, and only 20 feet from shore or so, took his last breath. Almost as quickly as he vanished underwater, more than a dozen people dove into the murky water to find him. In less than a minute he was pulled from the water, and a 45 minute attempt was made to save his life. That he was so young, so healthy, so close to shore, and only underwater such a short short time is incredibly sobering.
When I was 13, my next door neighbor, the 16 year old prom king at my soon-to-be high school, drowned in a boating accident. He too, was on a lake, and vanished along with three of his friends. He was a smart, strong, athletic football, baseball, and basketball player; the whole world lay wide open before him. He was the right kind of brains and brawn that is quintessentially All-American. Yet he just took a breath that wasn’t oxygen and silently disappeared from this world.
For years – and even still on occasion, especially last night – I had visions of taking gulping breaths for air and only feeling a crushing weight of water instead. Sometimes almost palpably. In dreams I saw my neighbor’s face, contorted with terror, trying to stay above the water. Living in Florida when my children were young, I was never really comfortable when they were in the water. Even after they demonstrated they could swim well, lurking in the back of my mind was that even good swimmers sometimes can’t swim at all. I kept seeing my neighbor’s disappearing face in the faces of my children.
So yesterday, when I saw firsthand that drowning isn’t the thrashing about that we’ve all seen in movies, but more of a just… enveloping of the body by a body of water, I was shaken on more than just one level. That yesterday the young man went underwater while he was surrounded by people… I still can’t wrap my head around it. And even more so, that it took seconds to take one last breath… literally, the blink of an eye.
Life is so fragile. As I later told my oldest, my 22 year old son, I’m sure it never entered that 22 year old’s mind when he stepped into the water that he wouldn’t come out of it alive. Not many of us have the foreknowledge that the next moment will be our last.
In what can only be described as a day of clarity that the thread we call life is ever so delicate, I wanted to tell people to recognize that life can turn on a dime. Without going into details on my Facebook page, I implored my friends and family to tell the ones they love that they love them. Right now. And not to wait. Because love is the only thing in this world that matters that you can take with you when you’re gone.
I took my own advice and hugged my husband and daughter and told them I love them. I called my two sons, one a lifeguard (!) at a Boy Scout camp for the summer, and the other living and working in the city where he went to college. I told them I love them, and while I know I haven’t been a perfect parent, and have made more than my share of mistakes, nothing will ever change the fact that they are the only things in this world that are of any consequence to my existence here.
If it hasn’t been apparent to you, I am a Christian. I call Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. And I believe in the very depths of my soul that when I die I will spend an eternity in Heaven. I was raised in a Christian home, but I can’t say that I always lived as a Christian. And right now, my eldest is pretty much following that same path. Maybe even veering onto that path a little faster and farther than I did. So beyond telling this son that I love him, I wanted to have that conversation with my son about his faith or lack thereof.
Having that conversation is something I’ve known I needed to do for a long time. But I don’t like confrontation and discord, and he can be one pretty defiant person at times, so I’ve hedged my way around it for a while. Still… for my own peace of mind, the discussion needed to be had.
He told me what I expected – that he’s not really following the faith that we tried to impart to him – but surprisingly he was open to listening to what I had to say, and didn’t shut down the communication at all. In fact, he told me that he appreciated and respected the fact that I prayed for him and wasn’t willing to give up on him coming back to Christianity.
Of course, being a “Hallmark commercial” crier, I pretty much wept my way through everything said. But he knows this about me, and can comprehend that being a parent means tears come with the territory. In fact, I think – I hope! – that the fact that I was so moved means he truly does understand the repercussions of him being with me in Heaven.
Regardless, I sowed the seed. I gave him something to think about. I told him that I never wanted him to be someplace where he didn’t want to be and not know where to turn. I told him that I’ve seen first hand that life can end, and sometimes you don’t have the wherewithal and strength to cry out to God to save you. I told him I didn’t want him to ever be in that situation. I told him that I will never ever stop praying for him and loving him.
I listened to what he said, so we can continue this conversation. He told me that I shouldn’t stop praying for him, and he thanked me for loving him that much. He told me that he loved me too.
And even though life can cease in the blink of an eye, that was good enough for me right then. Because I love him and despite the discomfort of the conversation he (still) loves me. So there’s still hope. I have faith. And he knows that love matters.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Maybe somewhere deep down he still believes….
*Originally published June 2013 on prayerposemom.com
Before I threw it away, I was flipping through an old InStyle magazine, the one with Olivia Wilde on the cover, and as I always do, read about the photo shoot for the cover. You know, what music was playing, what clothes were chosen, what […]
This past summer, I was present when a tragedy took place. A young man died while I stood just a few feet away. It shook me from a complacence to which lately, I’d become accustomed. Tragedies do that you. Death does that to you. Next […]
Last year, I blogged about a subtle shift my life. A life where I was a homeschooling stay-at-home mom. Then, I only had a glimpse as to how it was about to change. Now, though, the blinders are off.
My youngest is a senior in high school this year, and getting ready to move on to the next phase in life. My oldest has graduated college and is living and working halfway across the country. Our middle child is serving in the military and will be heading overseas in the next month or two. Our house is for sale, and since my husband’s company transferred his position, he has been commuting back and forth from home each week.
Which just leaves me all by my lonesome a lot lately.
And it’s been hard. Harder than I thought it would be.
I’m an only child, so I should be used to being by myself, but after 20+ years or so immersed in a noisy, messy, joyful, chaotic family life, I have to figure out just who exactly I am now.
When I started blogging – rather intermittently – at PrayerPoseMom a few years ago, I then had difficulty finding the time to post in my homeschooling, driving-this-way-and-that kind of lifestyle. But I knew that, first and foremost, I was a mom. A mom who loved being a mom. And I knew that prayer, faith and Jesus Christ were central to my very existence. So I blogged primarily about my family life, homeschooling, parenting through faith, what I was fixing for dinner, and every once in a while about things I did for me to keep me, well, me.
But I’m finding that, while I will always love being a mom, once again there’s more to my life than being “just a mom,” which was the tagline for the blog. I’m slowly finding more time to write, to read, to clean out the dust bunnies in my personal life, not just the ones under the beds. I’m learning that I still have a voice. That I love eating and baking and watching movies and jumping on the trampoline and running and reading voraciously and just learning. Still. I’m not just PrayerPoseMom anymore, and I want to focus more on what brings me joy, challenges me and causes me to grow.
And so I’ve changed my blog name. I’ve actually been considering it for the past year or so. Not that I have a tremendous following, but I think if I want to be authentic to who God wants me to be from this point forward, I’m more than just PrayerPoseMom.
Every year swallows arrive and build a nest outside my kitchen window, which is just to the right in the above photo. The first year they showed up, we saw a bulging glob of mud just under the porch ceiling. My husband, thinking it was a wasp’s nest, took the hose and sprayed it down. But the next day, the mud glob was back. And throughout that next day, every time I went to the kitchen window, I saw two swallows building a nest. It was in the most precarious spot it possibly could be – high up, exposed to the wind and elements, yet still they faithfully fortified it a little at a time. When wind did blow it down, they built it right back. Soon, the mother was sitting on eggs she had just laid. And before we knew it, the baby swallows hatched. I couldn’t wait to see what was happening out my kitchen window each day! Eventually, the babies ventured out of the nest, taking flying lessons for a few days. They swirled, unfurled their wings and flew blissfully at their newfound freedom. It was so wonderful to watch. I felt privileged that all that took place just outside the heart of our home – the kitchen.
But the best thing?
They come back and do it again every year. In fact, the nest in the photo was built over the past several days.
And so I watch Swallows from my Kitchen Window, which is where you’ll be able to find me in the near future.
I looked up the symbolism of swallows. I found that they represent freedom, hope, a safe return, and the renewal of life.
All that seems pretty apropos to where I stand at this juncture. I don’t know what the future holds for life after” just a mom.” I don’t yet know where our next home will be, what new job I might have, and so many other intangibles. Still, I plan to count it all joy and I hope you’ll join me as I engage in this next season of this blessed life.
Basically, this cake confection is a Texas sheet cake with peanut butter between the frosting and the cake. It’s divine. It’s chocolately, not-too-sweet, but just sweet enough. And peanut buttery too. And oh – about 4700 calories per piece…. Because one just can’t eat the recommended serving size of 1 square inch, one has to have enough to savor it in multiple bites.
It’s an odd name for a cake, though. I’m pretty sure it was created by someone during the Jimmy Carter administration, and they thought they’d be clever by adding the peanut butter to make the regular sheet cake recipe even more delicious. I’m simply theorizing this, because it’s something my family has been making back since the mid – 1970’s, and because Jimmah Cartah was a peanut farmer before he was president. Hence, peanut butter recipes flourished during his campaign and administration. I think. I was really too young to remember anything then.
In fact, Jimmy Carter Peanut Butter Cake is – and has been – one of the most frequently requested cakes made on the birthday cake rotation list for years and years. First, by me, now by my kids and husband. Since my daughter requested it for her birthday this year, I thought I’d share its sinfully wonderful recipe with you. By the way, my cousin makes this for friends and won’t give out this recipe; family secret and all… So… shhh…. if you happen to run in to her, don’t let her know that the recipe is out from under lock and key! 😉
Jimmy Carter Peanut Butter Cake
Grease 9″ x 13″ pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the cake:
1 C water
1 C butter (2 sticks)
1/4 C cocoa
1/2 C buttermilk
2 well-beaten eggs
Cook over medium high heat until bubbly. Take off the heat and add in:
2 C sugar
2 C flour
1 t baking soda
Quickly and thoroughly beat flour and soda in so the flour doesn’t get lumpy. When completely combined, mix in:
1 t vanilla
Pour into greased pan, bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely!!!
Peanut Butter Layer:
While cooling, mix together:
1 t vegetable oil
1 1/2 C peanut butter
Mix until oil is blended, and peanut butter is easy to spread. Spread over cooled cake.
Over medium heat, mix together until bubbly:
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
1/4 C cocoa
6 T buttermilk
Take off the heat and add in:
1 lb. XXX sugar
1 T vanilla
Mix thoroughly, adding in more XXX sugar if needed. Pour over the top of the peanut butter layer and refrigerate. Set out to warm briefly before serving. Although… we can never wait; we just eat it cold!