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

1 Year Anniversary

At an Army event, a rare glimpse of Ed all dressed up.

At an Army event, a rare glimpse of Ed all dressed up.

It seems only fitting that since this blog was started in preparation for our wedding, that I would post something celebrating that particular day in history.  It was hard for me to write this post, I feel there were many directions I could go as I reflected on my first full year as a married woman.  So, I’m giving myself permission, (hopefully I have yours too!) to re-visit first-year-of-marriage themes in the future, and will talk more specifically about our anniversary in this post.  So here we go….

Working on your marriage starts by working on you. If there is one thing I have learned in this first year of marriage, it is that being partnered with someone brings out your very best or your very worst qualities on any given day. I have also learned that the more I focus on what I need from my spouse, the less happy I am. Instead I am learning to find my contentment and my happiness in my relationship with God and myself. Then anything I get from my spouse is a bonus!

Especially on our anniversary I had to really wrestle with the

I love you!

I love you!

expectation of getting something from my spouse. We as a society have made a gift giving occasion out of just about anything. Now if you like to give gifts, or you like to get gifts there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Gift giving is a tried-and-true way of showing affection. However it is not the only way to show affection and the lack of gift giving or dinner reservations should not reflect on the health and wellness of a relationship. This was very hard for me to accept at first because I spend too much time on Facebook, seeing all the status updates from my friends who would receive roses, a card and dinner at the nearest steakhouse for any and all special occasions. Through much conversation I have learned how my spouse feels he is able to show love to me, and in his mind it looks very different than the typical Kay Jewelry commercial.

So I had to decide if I was going to be okay with that, or make myself miserable by comparing our relationship and my spouse’s love-overtures to every other 20-something married couple in our non-denominational Christian-ease hipster society. So in honor of my spouse, who does love me devotedly, here are some ways he shows me his love all the time not just on special occasions, (he does these of his own volition btw!):

  •  Paying the bills
  •  Doing the dishes
  •  Putting my health first
  •  Working me out at the gym
  •  Serenading me
  •  Dancing with me
  •  Laughing when I spend too much money
  •  Complementing me profusely when I roll out of bed in the mornings
  •  Keeping himself informed, in-shape, and spiritually growing

How did we actually spend our anniversary?  Well, my maid of honor was in town, so my bride-groom took us to the gun-range to teach us how to shoot.  (He loved teaching us, and apparently I’m a pretty good shot.)  Then, the MOH took us to lunch before heading to the airport.  Good food, lots of laughs, and reflections on life made for a lovely time.  Finally alone, my hubby and I spent some time kanoodling, cleaning, and wrapped up the day with a trip to the movies.  Dracula Untold is not really romantic, but prompted interesting discussion about love, sacrifice, good, and evil.  All in all, a pretty good day for Team RZ – I felt connected to my husband, gained fresh insight and understanding, and learned something new with him.  Isn’t that what marriage is all about?

Happy hubby, happy life!

Happy wedding day!

Getting back to my previous point about working on the self, some days it is a struggle to find my peace and happiness and contentment apart from the person that I have to do life with, however I also know that I can be demanding, selfish, prideful, needy, achievement-oriented, and by turns over emotional, or not in touch with my emotions at all.  That’s why I feel that prayer and meditation, (journaling for me), is even MORE essential when it comes to marriage vs all the other things we spend time stressing about.  After all, your marriage is the commitment that affects you each and every day, and will be with you until the day you die.  It can be, and should be, the most life-altering decision you make.  What is more worthy of your time and consideration?  After all, by calling on the Big Guy’s help, and working through your baggage SO THAT your marriage becomes healthier…you are really doing yourself a favor.

We are big fans of affirmations. We really appreciate when the other takes notice of something that we’ve done or something great about us in general. We try and make it a practice to affirm each other each night before we say prayers and go to bed. Some nights it is easier to come up with something than others but the practice of doing so forces us to look for the best in each other even if it’s been a hard day.

The #1 thing that I’ve learned about marriage is that every day is a choice. You may fall in love but deciding to stay there is made up of little choices each and every day. I can either choose to withdraw when I’m upset and pout, or I can lean into our relationship. I can try to understand the other point of view, I can opt to compromise. Obviously I don’t do it right 90 percent of the time, but with a lot of grace, forgiveness, and God’s help we’ve made it this far, and are looking forward to the rest of Forever.

At the Gym: I Missed…

“A treadmill is a treadmill…it’s the people who make the work-out.”

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Captain’s log:  Week 6, Day 4

Location – Ovideio Florida.

Co-ordinates: Local YMCA, complete with farmers market and prayer breakfasts intact.

Week 6 of post-hospital workouts.  Last month, I it was an effort to jog a few feet during my “hike” on the treadmill.  It was only about 30 seconds, but got the heart pumping!  I’m glad I have no pride left and am totally ok with working out like an 80 year old.  Hey, some of those grandparents have me beat, and good for them!

While I was cruising along…a favorite song came on my headphones, and I felt a rush…memories came flooding back to me, and I realized something.  In my dark moments of being sick, I start to believe that I’m lazy, or that I don’t have the will to do more.  And that’s just not true.  I love to be active – in every way – mentally, physically, socially, spiritually.  Sometimes, my disease gets in the way for awhile, but that doesn’t change who I am on the inside.  Regardless of what your body allows, you know what your heart is trying to do, and that’s what truly counts. So in honor of me…and you…and all the other achievers-at-heart out there, here are some things I’m grateful for at the gym, and regarding working out in general.

  • Muscle + music memory equals grand visions of past of runs.  I can picture the trees, the turns in the path, who I was running with, sometimes what was on my mind.  I remember how strong I was, the work it took to get to that point, and know I’m capable of more than I give myself credit for.
  • I can neither confirm nor deny...

    I can neither confirm nor deny…

    Results? I can’t be the only one who didn’t get the memo that you don’t experience crazy body change after 5 days of working out and 1 cheat day on your diet was I?  Oh, you thought you’d be back to fighting form too?  Yeah, apparently this is a several week process.

  • I love that the old man on the treadmill next to me and I are both laughing out loud uproariously at our own private jokes coming through our headphones as we tried to trot along.
  • That feeling of euphoria as the endorphins finally kick in over the pain of an early morning workout.
  • Some of the songs take me all the way back to college and make me think about how I’ve been taken care of and redeemed so many times over over the years.  The fact that God has brought me back to this place at all, is a miracle.
  • I am truly truly blessed to be able to move and stretch and not feel pain.  Staying thankful is a part of good work-out.
  • How amazing that this morning 40 minutes of walking made me as excited as finishing my marathon 4 years ago. An old friend just yesterday posted the picture of us running together at mile 17… what a sweet reminder and what a way for God to use the random people we meet.
  • My dear hubby was so excited to see me this morning, and ready for our work-out. As an army guy, staying in shape is a favorite aspect of the job, and he is a great teacher. He’s so confident and secure in himself, in a way that just makes you feel comfortable doing anything around him.  I was in a little bit of a dark place when I woke up, and that was just what I needed –  his excitement to see me like we’ve been separated for a week was precious!

So until the next work-out…may you stay grateful, hopeful, and moving to the beat of that old song in your head!

~Morgen

Finding Florida

Hello faithful friends!  I see that it has been way too long since I updated, I’m sorry!  My Crohn’s was not treating me kindly the last few weeks, and a dear friend took me for a much needed retreat into sunshine and quiet.  I’ve missed your feedback in my life, so I’ll briefly share some of what is going on.  Specifically, how grateful I am that we landed where we did – and only God knew how perfect it would be.

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This month I had planned for my husband to be gone at training – however, a minor injury kept him here for the time being.  Bonus – I don’t have to miss him yet!  However, I had planned an ultra busy Girl-A-Thon to keep my mind off his absence, so now he’s here in the midst of it!  First, our dear friend Michelle came down to stay for the month and help me manage the house and animals.  It’s been cool to show her our organic market, juicing, and starting garden.  I think she’s still in a bit of shock at our health-focused life-style, but that’s ok.

Next, my MOH4LIFE, (maid of honor, Lorri), came down to wisk me away to a nearby resort so that I could lay in the sun and get some R&R.  We’ve found in the past that whenever my disease gets bad, a few days of complete rest, stress free, with lots of sunshine make a huge difference.  So we hit the pool, took naps, and braved the “lazy river” for a week.  The most excitement we had was seeing a real live Alligator!  Trust me, as a new Floridian, that was a mile-stone for me.  We  got so close! And then a passing golfer offered to get even closer and took a great picture.  I feel much better – but still have a ways to go…

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Finally, we’ll finish the month with my new sister-in-law, Rachele, spending her Spring Break with us.  She’s a senior at the Air Force Academy now, so I warned her our lives are not conducive to an MTV-style vacay.  She assured me she’s looking for the rest and peace we hope she’ll find here in our little oasis.  Sigh, I feel so incredibly fortunate that we landed here.  Since we were married in November, we’ve had at least 1 Chicago visitor a month – sometimes their work brings them, sometimes it’s just for fun, but we’re always glad to see friendly faces and share life while we can!

I think back to this time one year ago….Ed was leaving Europe for good to come to the states, and we’d found out he was going to be stationed here.  When he originally put in his request, we were only a few months into dating, but he asked me to list the top 3 cities where’d I’d like to visit my boyfriend.  We put Chicago, then places in Florida and Texas, (I have other family there.)  When he got the email with his final destination, he was disappointed, and I had mixed emotions.  I’ve always loved Florida  and savored the excuse to visit…but we really had to talk about continuing to make the long-distance work.  That was a hard conversation, I felt laid bare as I humbly asked for his thoughts on the future, bracing myself for the possibility that the reality of dating a girl so far away would lose it’s appeal next to the tanned and toned bodies readily available in his new home.  He never wavered – and I was relieved.  As it turned out, I only flew south once before moving down here – most of our visits were him coming here, (I had to work weekends so it was harder for me to get away), ironic right?

Yet, now that we are here, we’ve met so many people who have made us feel welcome.  The first hair-cut I ever got, my stylist has Crohn’s that she’s healing naturally.  My massage therapist practices homeopathy and grows all her own organic food. Our church teaches taking care of the soul, and the body in natural God-given ways.  How could we ever have known that these individuals were waiting for us?  It’s true what they say, home is where the heart is, and ours is certainly happy right here.

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love my Husband

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Hey friends and followers!  Team RZ is “celebrating” it’s 2nd Valentine’s as a couple, and 1st as newlyweds.  We all know relationships – especially marriages – are tough.  But today, regardless of what our spouses do or don’t do, I choose to celebrate by remembering the best things.  I choose to convey my love the best way I know how…via blog!  So maybe some of you can relate, but set the complaints aside for a moment, and remember your beau is made in a Heavenly image…and join in the count-down with me.

10.  Reason why I love my husband – He saved a man from a burning car last summer.  To be honest, I totally forgot about this, (wait, don’t gasp, I have a horrible memory!), and he never brings it up.  But he had his review the other day, and it came up because he was in uniform when it happened.  He was driving home, saw the car in trouble, broke the the window, climbed in, and pulled the guy to safety.  Then he administered first aid and waited until the pediatrics came.  I don’t love the fact that my hubby did this crazy scary thing… I love that it’s in his nature to just help people.  He is never too busy, or cool, or sure someone else will, he just stops and does what needs to be done.  I’ve learned a lot from watching him.

9.  Reason why I love my husband – He is a life-long learner.  One of the first ways we bonded was sharing articles while he was in Germany, then reading and sharing our thoughts with each other.  He always wants to learn something new – he listens to podcasts as he bikes to work, reads books while waiting on people, prints articles he finds online, and sometimes calls me just to tell me about something interesting he learned in class that day.  I get exhausted from just a smidgen of that information – but he just hungrily eats it up, and passes it along to anyone who will listen.

8.  Reason 8 why I love my husband – he goes after what he wants.  That’s why we are together – he made up his mind that he wanted me, and we made it work from different continents, time zones, beliefs, and careers.  I find very few men that are willing to make sacrifices for relationships anymore…and he was so dedicated from the start!  As he often tells me, “you never stood a chance!”  It’s not just me by any means – when he wants to accomplish something, once it’s decided, he just does it.  Marathons, promotions, special forces, school, our home…now the trick is, he has to decide.  It doesn’t work if I just ask him to do something.  Oh wait, only good things!

7.  Reason why I love my husband – He keeps me focused on God.  It’s true, sometimes I’m a bit self-centered, or get distracted from what we were put on earth to do.  He keeps me on track, sometimes without even realizing it.  Sometimes, he’ll directly say to me, “baby, we need to pray!”, sometimes, I see something in him that reminds me he was fearfully and wonderfully made, sometimes, I get upset and don’t understand, and end up on my knees seeking wisdom from the Father.  One way or another, this man has stretched my faith more than I ever thought possible.

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6.  Reason why I love my husband – He’s hott.  Sorry ya’ll, that’s just the simple truth.  He’s a good looking man, and when he comes home at the end of the day, I think, “Wow, he’s yummy!  And he chose me!!”  And that’s all I’ll say here…  

5.  Reason why I love my husband – He supports me.  Sometimes, to a fault.  Whether it’s a business idea, a friendship, and goal, a dream, he always supports me.  He put it in the vows he wrote to me, and reminds me often that we are a team.  If it’s important to me, he’s going to help me get there.

4.  Reason why I love my husband – He’s a warrior.  He fights evil, seen or unseen every day.  We talk a lot about spiritual warfare in our house, we believe that just as God is so good and full of love, that there is an Enemy full of evil and pain.  So whatever form that evil takes, my love is ready to do battle.  On a more personal note, I worry sometimes that he will never truly feel peace.  He has been a solider for 6 years, most of his adult life.  He’s seen enough action to know that the bad guys are real, and too close for comfort sometimes. I pray often that our home would be a place where he can rest – even just for a moment before heading back into the fray.

3.  Reason why I love my husband He’s so silly!!!  Sometimes we just get the giggles and can’t stop.  I’ve never laughed so easily WITH someone.  You know how a lot of times, the laughter between people is at one person’s expense?  Or one person thinks it’s funnier than all the rest?  Not with him, when I start laughing, he’s right there with me.  And when he’s causing my laughter, I can’t stop!  We sing in the car, tickle each other, and make goofy noises and voices.  I think, (well, this is the German in me), that being silly with someone is more vulnerable than just about anything else.  It’s a form of intimacy just like the deep emotions, and physical touch.  I love his smile, and love when we laugh together.

2.  Reason why I love my husband – He is going to make a great dad.  I have not always been on the “I need a kid” band wagon – many of you know this.  However, when I see my hubby in action every day, I think, this man DESERVES to have kids.  He should have a little mini version of him that he can teach and love and train up in the world.  I see how tender he is with other peoples kids, or our dogs, I hear how deeply convicted he is about right and wrong, about caring for others, and I think, dear God, may we have children JUST SO THAT he can be their father.  Lord knows, if I’m their mother, they’ll need all the help they can get.

1.  And, the #1 Reason why I love my husband is.…because I choose to.  I figured out long before I ever met this guy that Love is a choice.  How so?  Because it’s an action.  The feelings ebb and flow with our sleep patterns and the other person’s behavior, but our actions don’t need to.  So when I first told him I loved him, I meant it.  I had fallen, and decided to stay.  Regardless of what the future held, I decided I was going to love him like Jesus as best I could – even if that meant us not being together.  But it was in God’s plan for us to be together…so on Nov. 2, I stood up in front of family and friends, and promised God that I would love this man for the rest of my life.  And so, I do.

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