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.

IMG_20150130_105526

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

New Year, Same Old Me

People people everywhere… not a soul in sight.

Caffeinated productivity

Caffeinated productivity

I’m sitting at the local Panera today, the melancholy strands of some forgotten classical composer matching my mood this morning. Last night’s fight with the hubby still stings in my heart as I try to drown my feelings in a cup of coffee.

It’s a brand new year, but I’m not writing resolutions, or setting goals like I did last year.  I had all kinds of plans to expand my business, learn new things, and get in shape…and look how that turned out.  I feel like I tried so hard, and everyone around me kept saying, “you can do it, mind over matter, push yourself!”  But that didn’t make the pain go away.  That didn’t give me the energy to do what I wanted to do.  So maybe it’s better to take each day as it comes…

As I sit here lost in my thoughts, other conversations filter through my conscious.

  • At my 2 ‘oclock, an older man describes his ministry/business to a younger man, perhaps in hopes of bringing him onto the team.  Listening to him describe the work-load, the mission trips, and “scalability” it brings me right back to my former life…and I miss it.  I wish I was sitting here waiting for a meeting of my own.
  • At my 11 o’clock, 2 women sit on the same side of the booth, people-watching and giggling, 2 friends sharing a little life before they go their separate ways.  As they stand to leave, I notice the thinner one is older…maybe they are mother and daughter…then I see she carries a cane, and her daughter/friend throws away their trash for her. Even with a limp, she has a better attitude than I do today.
  • At my 9 o’clock 2 more women sit across from each other, laptops open.  The one on the left is self assured, prattling away a mile a minute as she explains a computer system to the girl on the right, who bites her lip in concentration and stares harder at the screen – as if that will help her make sense of it all.

Then, in the middle of the room, a young woman takes a phone call.  She looks troubled, then grabs a napkin and writes with her purple pen:  Jan. 29, 10am, doctor B. What is she thinking?  Why does she look troubled?  Well, I know, because that young lady is me.

What did you write down today?  All of us had to plan something...

What did you write down today?

In that moment as I looked at the napkin, I was struck in awe of the vastness of the world, and the multitude of people within it, that all have responsibilities, family, a job, an agenda, maybe even a broken heart…and God knows them all.  That just astounds me!  I think one of the reasons that community and connection and conversation mean so much to me is that I see the Great Creator at work when I get a glimpse of someone’s life, and see a reflection of my own. I wish I could just plop myself down at the table and join in…and want to meet them all!

People are so much more alike than we are differentand yet at the same time each person out of billions is remarkable and unique.  Doesn’t that just boggle your mind?  Does it stop you in your tracks to think that at any given moment, there is someone like you in the world who is in the same situation…and someone else at the same time who may never experience what you’re going through, yet will still feel what you’re feeling?

Still smiling!  More coffee please...

Still smiling! More coffee please…

I don’t know what God or the Evil One have in store for me this year…but I pray that the Lord will use me for good.  I pray that whatever talents He has entrusted to me will not go to waste.  I pray that what I am learning about myself and the world will not be in vain.  I think there is a reason humans have the ability to communicate on such a specifically in-depth level. No other creature can do that!  It must be for a purpose right?  There must be a heavenly value in learning and understanding and appreciating what each of us brings to this world.  Perhaps my goal this year will be to figure that out.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

~Morgen

A Vulnerable Marriage

dark_flowers_by_sivanchen-d349lqlDoesn’t that sound scary?  The idea of a marriage being vulnerable?  It’s such negative word most of the time. I was taught it was never good to be “vulnerable”. In the business world, you never want to be “vulnerable” to your competition. As a single guy, you never want to be “vulnerable” to a girl who might hurt you. As a practical individual, you never want to be financially vulnerable to “losing it all.” Yes, it’s scary to be vulnerable, to be left open to hurt and pain because someone knows “where to stick it to you.”  However, God created us that way, so it must be for a reason.  Is it possible that this great weakness become our great strength?

I’ve been meditating on this word, “vulnerable” lately because I’ve been doing a personal inventory of myself. Over the last 2 years, my goal has been to actually change my life from the inside out. In order to do that, I can’t keep responding to situations the way I did 5 years ago, or even 2 years ago. If I truly have faith that Jesus knew how to live, then I have to trust Him to help me live His way and not my way. That means, I need to do things that are hard, that I didn’t want to do when I was 22. Well my friends, I’m about to be really honest with you, and it’s going to be really hard, but I feel like God’s been showing me how being vulnerable can be a good thing.  So you can stop right here, or bare with me, it’s about to get real!  Dun dun dun…

Most of you know I have Crohn’s disease, some of you know it’s pretty severe, (20 years, 4 surgeries, countless hospital visits) a few of you know it hasn’t really been under control since I ran a marathon in 2010. (Ha, that was a brilliant idea! With no special training or coaching or taking my condition into consideration…smart.)  It turns out my work-aholic, insomniac, more coffee please, I must be independent life-style wasn’t helping get things back under control, so it has been a slow spiral, and since December…it’s been pretty bad. Why do I share all this now? Because now I’m married.  It’s not just me and my mess any more, it’s my husband’s burden too.  Now he has gladly taken it on and says that he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. In our short time together he’s probably done more research on my condition than I have in my life-time. (That doesn’t actually say much, I was never big on spending time on my disease, but its still pretty awesome he’s that committed right?)

wedding rings smallWe are still newly-weds, married less than a year, and you’d expect that first year to be all about decorating the love-nest, cutsie date-nites with other couples, and lots of sex. And it should be!  But that is not what God had in store for me and Ed. In fact, God has taken us so far past those expectations that I’ve completely let them go – and yes, that took many tears and much journalism. In our house, there are no cute pajamas, I don’t cook dinner, my make-up hasn’t been touched in months…(yes Mom, I’m still your daughter!)  Instead, I spend most days in bed with my lap-top, still trying to do a little work, anything to feel like a productive member of society. By God’s Grace, some days I am! But I feel gross, I’m in pain, and I can’t do much to help.  My man takes it like the soldier he is, works all day, then comes home to a sick wife and a messy house.  It breaks my heart…and that is almost worse than the pain.  I want so badly to be the partner and the help I think he deserves, to live our life the way we planned, but God has a different plan.  He has used this pain, my so extremely physical, Ed’s mental and both of us so emotional, to tear down every wall and facade a human can devise. , There is just no room for anything not honest in our marriage. There is no room to not try and know and understand and to forgive and to listen to each other. 

Now, one would think that just managing the sickness would be enough to deal with, but Ed and I are both such strong (stubborn) leader-types that are constantly strategizing, dreaming, reading, planning, and recruiting, that we still have to battle through our conflicting ideas and ideologies sometimes.  We still fervently pray God would use us for something greater than ourselves – even as I feel like this sickness is the most selfish thing in the world. But as we hope and pray and wait, this is what God’s done – He’s made our marriage vulnerable. 

stitched-heart-tattoo-sketchThe other day, I’d just had a really bad bought of the pain, and Ed had literally walked in the door from work to find me sobbing, and so exhausted, I could do nothing as he took me in his arms by cry against his shoulder repeating, “I’m sorry, I”m so sorry Babe!  I’m sorry…”.  He shushed me with, “Baby, don’t you ever apologize to me, you’re fine, it’s ok,” and as he held me and we prayed I realized this – every time your heart is torn,, and lays openly wounded, there is an opportunity to bond with the person your turn to in your healing.  As Ed and I turn to each other with our hearts bleeding every honest thought of who we are, I think God is stitching those wounds…and our hearts…more closely together as one.  Sigh.  Isn’t that a crazy and terrifying and beautiful image?  After all of this, how could our marriage, our relationship, our purpose for living, not be forged together?  

It is a pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but if something like this does come your way, pray that God would let you be vulnerable, and then that He would heal you with his surgeons hands. At this moment, I’m not in pain, I’m able to rest, and to be truly grateful for 8 months of a vulnerable marriage.

~ Morgen

Good Friday

Not in the budget...

Not in the budget…

You know that feeling you get when someone buys you a present you just could never afford yourself?  Like, your friend buys you a brand new Coach purse from this Spring collection that you’ve drooled over in the department store?  (Gentlemen, pretend it’s a power drill.)  On the one hand, you’re almost embarrassed to carry it because you know you could never have bought that, it seems almost like you’re “posing” as someone better or richer than you are by waltzing through the coffee line with that bag on your arm.  However, if you don’t wear it, the friend who bought it for you would be so sad, she would think you didn’t like it, that she’s got you all wrong, or even maybe that you don’t value her friendship!  Eeek, no one wants that.

What if, instead of continuing to think of it as the “one you could never afford”, you saw that purse as a representation of what a kind friend you have?  And that you are a person who is worthy of love enough that she would think to get that for you?  Could you then enjoy that dashing leather masterpiece with all the confidence and fun with which it was intended?

This is how I feel about what Jesus did for me sometimes.  On this day, many years ago, at the young age of 33, He willingly

The all-access pass to your Creator

The all-access pass to your Creator

allowed himself to be tortured, and mocked, and crucified…so that I could wear a badge of innocence in God’s eyes.  He didn’t try to haggle down the price of my life, or wait for a sale, He took the worst society could throw at Him, and never threw it back.  Just thinking about it makes me feel like I have to come groveling on my knees anytime I ask God for something, because I know I didn’t pay for that badge that makes me worthy in His sight.  But is that what Jesus would want?  Maybe not.  When I really think about it, nothing but love could have helped Him do what He did.  He got absolutely nothing out of it for Himself.  So this gift that He gave me in love, like a birthday gift from a best friend, I believe, is meant to be worn with confidence and joy.  I need to learn to bring that attitude to everything I face in life.  Jesus did not redeem me to my Creator so that I would cower in shame at the price for the rest of my life, He did it so that I could be free of shame for the rest of my life!

Feel the joy!  Coffee sold separately.

Feel the joy!

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but what better concept to ponder on today of all days?  I hope and pray that you’re letting God in, wherever you are today.  That you are claiming victory over the challenges and the emotions they bring in this life.  That you are looking forward to the assurance that it is never to late to celebrate what Easter is all about.  “He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed.”

Matthew 21:28 – It’s never too late, He still wants you:

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”  “The first,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectorsand the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.