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

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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

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.