Not My Best Speghetti

Feelin' fit - 2 weeks ago

Feelin’ fit – 2 weeks ago

Dear friends, 

I would like to thank all of you reading this for sticking with me on this journey.  I know it hasn’t always been easy, there have been several posts that raised an eyebrow, or illicited concerned emails…and I just can’t believe how much you care!  Thank you for your prayers, your patience, and your compassion.  Ed and I are so thankful for this community that shares life with us.  I always welcome your feedback, your own stories, and your questions.  We all learn to do life better together after all!

Here is what I learned today: (see, isn’t this nice?  I’m jumping right to the moral)  Today I was reminded that sometimes, not my best is better – than not me at all.  I’ll elaborate….

For those who follow me on Facebook, you know that 2 weeks ago I was hit with some kind of food poisoning or 24-hour bug that give my Crohn’s a nice little upset, and it hasn’t settled down since.  Right before that hit, I was doing great! Biking, hiking, back to a work-schedule…I felt like ME!  Praise the Lord.  Well, yesterday, I was so fed up and frustrated to be back in the “sick place” that I sobbed to God to “get the devil out of me”, and then tried drinking less, eating more, and changed up my supplements.  It seems to be helping, and today I feel a little bit better.

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Personal Best for Morning Afro

My husband – who likes to pretend that I’m always healthier than I look – had delegated me the task of making a post-work-out snack for his future soldiers today.  He said the snack should be spaghetti, and that I should make it for 10.  Ok, well, I said I would do my best thinking, even if I wasn’t feeling great, that wouldn’t be too hard.  Spaghetti is hard to screw up right?  I put out the meat to thaw in the morning, then did some work, ate lunch, and cautiously began the process.  Would my stomach hold out?  In general, for me, the hard part about cooking when I’ve been ill is just standing on my feet in one spot like that.  Even walking is easier because then you’ve got some momentum to keep you going.

As I boiled the water my husband called.  “Hi honey, hows it going…are you getting started?  Great!  Yeah, it’s going to be about 18 kids.”  WHAT!  I do not have a commercial kitchen with giant stock pot. And there wasn’t enough meat thawed!  Well, I had no choice but to “Be all that I could Be”, and put another pot on the stove.  3 pots, 4 pasta boxes, 3 marinara jars, and several pounds of turkey later, I looked at the finished product.  My dear sweet husband – who seems to think that food magically transforms with the help of the kitchen fairies – had bought the “angel hair” pasta rather than the spaghetti noodles, and even with olive oil and ice it was sticking together.  The marinara didn’t quite cover it as thoroughly as I would like, and the meat seemed sparse – although it tasted good.  The whole thing looked like a clumpy-mushy mess – if I had a casserole dish big enough and a little more sauce and cheese, I could have prettied it up, but it was time and the best I could do was give them one last stir and throw them in the oven to heat back up before Ed came to get them.

Sunsets always bring me to center

Sunsets always bring me to center

After he picked up the pots, I felt the desperate need to be out of that stuffy house and into the fresh air.  I hit the bathroom one last time, suited up, and climbed aboard my lovely new bike.  I might regret it later, but some exercise was needed for my mental sanity.  I was so angry thinking that the kids would probably pick at it, (I’d seen them turn down my organic cooking before), and my pride welled up at the thought that they would all assume “Sergeant Szall’s wife can’t even cook spaghetti”.  I had told Ed not to mention where it was from, just let them eat or reject it on it’s own merits.  However, I’m sure he told them he was “running home” to pick up the food.  Grrrr.  If only it wasn’t angle hair, if only I was feeling better, or my house was clean enough to ask another wife over to help, or if only I didn’t let myself get volunteered for stuff like this!  These kids were starting to cost us a lot of time and money as the months ad up, and I don’t even get to spend any time with them, so there isn’t even the benefit of the relationship in it for me.  It is purely out of Christian/wifely duty that I do this.

All these thoughts churned in my head as I turned the corner and rode towards the sinking sun.  I looked above me and took a deep breath, smelling the leaves and smoke from a grill.  With Pandora on my head phones I began to relax, and I couldn’t help it, I decided to pedal over to the park on say hi.  I’m just too social not to – and I was having a good hair day.

He usually trains them here, not in our neighborhood

He usually trains them here, not in our neighborhood

I swung into the park, and there was my husband, holding court with a group of youngsters sitting in the grass, half of them gnawing our organic green apples, the others scraping bowls.  I looked, and sure enough, on the ground were two empty pots and a pile of marinara-stained bowls.  I smiled to myself as Ed carried on talking with them. I thought about how important food is to community.  We talk about it in leadership all the time.  If you want people to listen to each other, to learn and share ideas, give them food.  The bible talks about feeding the hungry often.  Didn’t Jesus feed the 5000 so they would hang out with each other and listen to him preach?  Couldn’t I feed 18 hungry youngsters?

The most famous verse about food rose to my mind, “Jesus took some bread, and gave thanks for it, and broke it apart for them saying, this is like my body, I’m going to be broken, so you don’t have to. Please accept it, and eat…and whenever you come together to break bread, do so in remembrance of me.”  Huh.  My Savior gave up a lot for me, all he’s asking me to do is cook some spaghetti.  In the end, I didn’t think it was my best, but if I hadn’t tried, they would have gone hungry.  And you know they’d be cranky if they didn’t eat!

Sometimes, it's just what they need. And you know people get cranky if they don't eat!

Sometimes, it’s just what they need.

So I actually think, my friends, although some people may be quick to judge and some may not understand where we’re coming from, giving ANY of ourselves, is truly better than giving none at all. Therefore, ladies and gents, the next time you are given an opportunity, I will hope and pray that you will give whatever you can give.  After all, in the hands of Jesus, it may feed many.

Much love ~ Morgen

4 Minutes of Focus

Anything worthwhile…worthy, worth doing…takes a little focus. It takes a little effort, and a little decision.

social-media-multi-tasking

I am so in the habit of flying into my thoughts for the day, or a task, and then when it’s not going well, I often just keep barreling through ‘multi-tasking at whim’ when we could vastly IMPROVE what we’re trying to do with just a little focus. For me, it was my favorite soothing music, (literally like one 4-min song), and some improvised breathing/yoga stretches to try and relax my sore back and ham-strings that provided something “worthy” to my day.

In my soreness this morning, even after pain meds, I had tried to just get my hubby to take care of it all for me – make the tea, put food in the oven, etc…but by 7am recruits were blowing up his phone, so I sighed and prayed and forced myself out of bed. Morning chores were rough, and it was Ed who admonished me to stop and stretch out for a minute  as I hobbled from dogs to stove.

If you're movin' you're groovin' honey! Just let it flow...

If you’re movin’ you’re groovin’ honey! Just let it flow…

Just those 4 minutes – I focused on breathing fully, leaning into my stiffness, and enjoying the music, and just shifting whatever whatever I wanted!  Sorry more evolved friends,  “True Yoga” intimidates me. By the time Pandora had switched to the next song I was ready to shmimmy up and with a little shake and feel a smile warm my face as blood flowed and tingled down my spine.  I’m cured!  Kind of, for now.  Just then the kitchen timer alerted me to a hot breakfast waiting – beautiful.

Worth it!  Just a little focus, effort, and decision…now I can relax with my breakfast and hopefully remember this lesson tomorrow.

Happy Tuesday friends!

~Morgen

Grandmother Wore Green…and other things

Before we begin dear friends – I apologize for the over-use of pictures, it is for memories sake after all!  Don’t give up on your browser. .And secondly, you can cry if you need to.  I did, and I won’t apologize for it!  If there is anything built up in your life that makes you angry or heart-sore as you read, just let it out.  Please.  Ok, now read on and I am sorry about the length! 

Me,  Cousin Aaron, Cousin Chelsey, Brother AJ, and Grandmother Reynolds

Me, Cousin Aaron, Cousin Chelsey, Brother AJ, and Grandmother Reynolds

I think  nothing makes Heaven seem as sweet or as real as imagining it for someone we love.  Although I do think about the shortness of life quite a bit, I have not spent much time imagining it for myself 0ther than that it will be better than here.   I also think that Heaven is not about how fast we get there, or what route we take, but about who we bring along the way. Well dear friends, today my family will lay to rest a matriarch – in the truest sense of the word – knowing that she is already resting in Heaven as I write, and has brought many with her along the way.

I am here in Florida, and cannot be with my family today as they share together my grandmother’s memories in Iowa, so I take to the page to reflect on the amazing legacy of a grandparent – perhaps the grandest title one can achieve for many reasons.

 

Not quite...but the sentiment is right.

Not quite…but the sentiment is right.

Grandparents seem to be able to love their gand-kids generation (not all legacy’s are left by blood) with a special kind of un-presuming love that refelcts Jesus in a tangible way.  Parents have to take their kids a little more personally, because of course they are trying to live up to their parents before them.   Your kids are a direct reflection back on you all the time -and that mixes a little pressure into the love sometimes!

See?  Worth it!

See? Worth it!

But Grandparents don’t have anyone looking over their shoulders,

so they just get to love.  They love reliving those first-times as little ones discover the world, the can really imagine what the future holds having seen their own kids gone on before.  And for this reason, I wish that we Grandkids would take our roles a little more seriously.  We DO reflect our grandparents, we ARE their legacy if we allow ourselves to be.   Now I was ridiculously blessed to have two very loving sets of grandparents growing up, my paternal grandfather is still with us and well Praise the Lord. However, it is only now as I’ve gotten older, as life is slowing me down, that I can truly appreciate what our grandparents can leave to us, and I know there are many of you who have been brought up by grandparents and had the ability to see that early on.

Here are a few things about my Grandmother Reynolds, my Dad’s mom, that I would like to remember, hope that I may learn from, and have already inherited:

  1. Wanda Tindale Reynolds

    Wanda Tindale Reynolds

    She started a Library.  Yes she sure did, back in her small town in Oklahoma when my dad was boy.  They didn’t have one, so she went door to door, wrangled up ladies and books, and started a lending library that she later ran for years.  Eventually when they all moved east, she took her skills to the public libary in Dubuque and had a long history of instilling reading and the dewy-decimal system in children.   I have many books as gifts from her, all inscribed with love.

  2. She was a barrel racer!  Now I ride, and love horses, but I have never torn down a row of barrels on a sliding stallion going 40 – that’s like sky-diving without the tandem.  Aside from the equestrian affinity we obviously share, Grandmother wasn’t afraid to do things.  So many people just think, and never do, and Wanda Reynolds was someone who had the get-up-and-go to make things happen.  May that always inspire me.
  3. Happy bachlorette Grandma!

    Happy bachlorette Grandma!

    She was a devoted wife – who wore green!  I only recently discovered this when I went to visit her in the nursing home during my bachlorette weekend in Galena. My MOH and I swung by to bring her a little tiara and some pie, and I asked about her wedding and marriage to Grand-dad who passed 26 years ago. He had been in the army, (so was mine!), they were married by close friend, (so was I!), and wait for it…she wore green!  No white dress, those were the war-times honey and they were just so excited to get married and had a nice big cake and reception at their friends home, and she wore a green skirt-suit.

    Maybe white for you other guys, but it was a pronounced peacock for me!

    Maybe white for you other guys, but it was a pronounced peacock for me!

    I hadn’t known this when I chose my own dress, and the thought that we shared even that small connection through time will long stay on my heart as a badge of honor.

  4. Wedding party, and friends beyond!

    Wedding party, and friends beyond!

    She was independent, yet selfless, and made family matter.  What?  Women can do all that?  She moved around the country with her husband’s work as a pastor, army, gaurd, never invoking a move for her own sake.  Yet she always found a job, or volunteered in their community, and made trips to see family by herself after my grandfather died of battle with cancer.  I loved when she would drive out to stay with us Easter weekends, dressed like the Queen of England in her Sunday suit, and help us find Easter eggs, make ham and pecan pies, and remembering all my parents friends at their local church.   She also drove out for dance-recitals, birthdays, and all those times I went to the hospital as a kid, she took turns with my parents they could divide time with my brother and me.

  5. Easter-day fine!

    Easter-day fine!

    She was a spiritual mentor to me.  You may assume that since her husband was a pastor, she had no choice, but I always found her faith to be her own. Her life left a little trail of bread-crumbs that seemed to always lead back to a loving God who was worth knowing.  Grandma made it “ok,”, and even “cool” to ask about God.  She gave me my first Bible, and was so supportive of my decision to be baptized when I was 8.  Later, she stood by me with pearl-bracelet in hand as I was confirmed in the church.  To she and I, these weren’t just religious ceremonies.  These were commitments I was making to the God who had saved me, and who she showed me sustained her.

  6. James and Wanda Reynolds on their Wedding Day

    James and Wanda Reynolds on their Wedding Day

    She met it with a smile.  My grandmother was so good at being gracious and plucky regardless of the situation.  She could jump right in with any conversation, and she often took my rudeness in stride and just kept right after me to behave myself. (I was a little impatient and willful as a child – can you believe it?)  What has made us feel like we are a better person when we get crass or turn the rough edge to someone who may run us the wrong way? That wasn’t Jesus’ way.  Grandmother had the strength and courage to keep on being her best self, and trust that others would learn to do the same.  I’m trying to do better.

Look Grandma, it's for you!

Look Grandma, it’s for you!

Finally, I’ll just share that this last season of getting married and moving so far away has been so much harder than I ever imagined.  I’ve been sick so much of that time, and have struggled to stay in touch.  Wanda had been in the nursing home for the last few years – finally giving up her little apartment and bright red car she loved so much, (again, where do I get my independence from?), and about a month ago, my parents let me know she was transferring to hospice.  I couldn’t bare the thought of not saying goodbye, of making sure that she knew I really missed all those weekends I was working and couldn’t come visit, that I remembered all she had done for me.  So be the grace of friends, husband, and the Lord, I was able to make a trip to see her and the rest of our family over mother’s day.  It was wonderful to be all together after I’d missed all the holidays, but the most precious moment was on Sunday afternoon, just one good friend and I stayed behind with a little card, and I tried to share with her as best I could what she meant to me.  It’s never enough, and there  just is never the words, and I didn’t want to make her feel like this was really, “IT”, just because I didn’t know when I’d make it back…but I think she understood.  I think she got what I was trying to say, and that I was far away yet holding her so close.

This pecan pie is soo good!

This pecan pie is soo good!

The last time I spoke with my Grandmother, was the night before she passed.  I was able to call her from my own hospital bed, and pray with her for just a few moments…and it was both heartbreaking and blessing at the same time.  Later that night, as I lay in my own pain and prayed for her, I thought, she’s past all this.  She get’s to go home, she’s done.  She has lived a full life loving those around her for the sake of her Savior, and she has done it alone for many years.  Now, she gets to rest.  She gets to be taken care of, she is at Home with her husband, and I imagine them smiling together under the watch-care of the One who redeemed them there.  And yes, Heaven is a sweet place to imagine when already filled with those we love.

Until we meet again, Grandmother, I will try to do you proud.

Your loving legacy,  Morgen

 

Living legacies, Cousin Chelsy, Me, and Sis-in-Law Megan.  All married within the last year, ready to start a new generation...

Living legacies, Cousin Chelsey, Me, and Sis-in-Law Megan. All married within the last year, ready to start a new generation…

 

 

My 2 Cents on Meditation

Feel your inner lotus...or something.

Feel your inner lotus…or something.

Well if you know me, you know I don’t meditate.  I hate Silence.   Sitting in Silence is even worse!  My best prayer times are with music, or writing out my prayers in a journal.  However, Ed enjoys meditation and yoga.  He appreciates silence on his runs and walks.

We’ve been discussing meditation lately, I have always had reservations about it’s usage in Eastern and New Age religions.  I’ve seen meditation lead to communing with not-so-good spirits, and god-complexes in individuals.  However, I’m open minded to the idea applied to Christian practices.  There is a verse in the Bible I don’t pay enough attention to, it says,

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~ Phillippians 4:8-9

Things that are lovely and good...

Things that are lovely and good…

Doesn’t that sound nice?  To spend time thinking about things like that, and allowing God to bring us peace?  Well, I have never made much time or spent much energy exploring this idea, and whenever Ed brought up meditation or yoga (which I have tried and failed at many times), I always pushed it off with a, “yeah, we can talk about that”.  Meaning, let’s talk about it later, and not do anything about it.

All of that changed today.  I was leaving the house to meet up with a friend whom I value very much.  I had not slept well due to Crohn’s issues, and felt tense all morning as I poured over emails and caught up on Facebook.  As I got into the car I thought, this tea-date is really important to me.  I really want God to use it.  So I started thinking about that as I drove.  How could God use this time to His purpose and goodness?  How has He used other conversations with friends to His Glory?  I reflected on the impact good friends have had in my life over the years, and then one particular thought stood out.  God has blessed me with the companionship of extraordinary people my entire life.

Ed is getting ready to leave for 7 weeks of training…that may turn into 5 months.

Oh Chi-Town...

Oh Chi-Town…

 Several people said to me, “well, why don’t you come back to Chicago for awhile?  See your family and friends here?”  I see their point, however, Chicago no longer feels like home.  Isn’t that crazy?  It always will be to some extent – it’s my home-town and made me who I am. But right now, Orlando has my heart. That surprised me as I thought about it!  It’s only been 4 months since I left, but there are dedicated, kind, loving people who have embraced Ed and I as their own.  As people found out he was leaving, they’ve reached out with all kinds of offers and invitations to keep me healthy, safe, and cared about while my husband is away.

So as I pulled up to Starbucks and waved to my friend through the window, I thanked God for how carefully He has orchestrated the relationships in my life.  I was reminded that He DOES have a purpose for things that we can’t even imagine…until we have that one conversation and it all makes sense.   That 10 minutes of meditation in the car put me in a completely different mindset to meet with this dear woman, and share life, and let God do what only He can do.  And sure enough – He did.  It was the most revealing, tender, and encouraging conversation we’ve had yet in our new friendship, and I now see the purpose of letting our minds dwell.

Ed’s Wife

palm-trees-2Well, this is my first full week in Florida...and as a wife…and as a full-time business owner.  Oh, and as a mother of 2 squirrel-y hounds. I still can’t quite believe that this is my “new normal”, a permanent reality rather than a temporary visit.  Without the constant cheerful re-assurance of my new husband, I don’t think I’d be adjusting very well.

Keeping warm together between photos

Keeping warm together between photos

What’s tough:  We had a “thing” last night about internet.  He can get by with a pay-as-you-go hub with a few gigs a month.  Between marketing, networking, and my addiction to Netflix, I need constant high-speed access 24/7.  As we used up the last of his gigs yesterday, it was time to re-asses, and he happily added a regular internet subscription so that I could do my work from home and not count the megabytes.  BUT – for an woman who is used to making and spending her own money and answering only to God…it is SO hard to ask for something like that.  It used to be that if I spent a little too much in one area in the budget, I was the only one who suffered, ate less, or stayed in on the weekend to compensate.  Now if we are careless, he can’t go to the chiro or afford school books.  AND…I’m no longer full-time at the church, so I’m shifting to working my business as my only line of income, and in the meantime I’m not contributing much to the house-hold.  I know this is stereo-typically a guy problem, but I’m sure other ladies encounter this now too?  Especially if you get married later in life?

What’s awesome: We have SO much fun together!  There is something so sweet about

Took a random detour and ended up at a car show. Ed found us a mini-van

Took a random detour and ended up at a car show. Ed found us a mini-van

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Someone’s going into the fountain here…

having taken a leap of faith to go from dating long-distance to married-in-person (as I call it).  I’m constantly amazed by my husbands compassion, work-ethic, and determination to love and take care of me so well.  We’re learning about each other exponentially every day, and our ability to communicate is our saving grace.  We survived our first visit to Bed Bath and Beyond together with registry and gift-cards in hand.  We are learning to share 1 car, take care of 2 dogs, and compromise on how we spend our leisure time.  On Sunday, we went to the little church that meets at the University, most of the other soldiers from the station attend as well.  Wow – Pentecostal/Baptist/African-American-Style/3hours of awesomeness. I cried, was blessed and prayed over, anointed with oil, and hugged with passion.  Can’t wait to see what happens week 2 🙂

 My favorite thing about being married is the

We're married!  Yup, that happened.

We’re married! Yup, that happened.

un-conditional attitude.  There is not point in getting mad – we may as well talk it out because neither of us is going anywhere.  The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear”.  I’m feeling that these days, and it is truly beautiful.  We constantly pray as a couple that this sweet season together will make us strong enough to pour that same kind of love out to others as we meet them in life. Wish us luck!

~ The Marry Team RZ