Pieces of Heart

How well are you treating yourself and others lately?

Truth

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”Gautama Buddha

This morning I was looking through my Facebook memory feed and I saw the entry above. It struck a chord; so I posted it again and within minutes, some of my friends started sharing it. Isn’t it the truth? Why is it so hard for the majority of humans to focus on our positive attributes rather than our negative ones?

I know the quote up there says that it’s not up to others to keep you encouraged and it’s true; but oh, does it help when we infuse this good advice with a healthy dose of kindness to one another? It doesn’t take a supreme effort to make another person feel good. In fact, whenever I am able to bring a smile to someone else’s heart, it makes my own heart smile.

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This morning I made a quick stop on the way to work in order to pick up lunch. I stopped at my favorite grocery store and picked out something Keto-approved (because I am on a never ending quest to get healthier. That counts as self-love, right?). Standing in the checkout line I overheard the cashier call the customer in front of me by name. My first thought was that she must be a regular shopper. Still, it made me smile inwardly because the cashier was so kind to her.

When it was my turn, she asked me how I was, we exchanged pleasantries and she rang up my items. When she handed me the receipt, in the sweetest tone, she said to me, “Thank you, Bobbe…I really like your name!” I thanked her, wished her a great day, and I left the store smiling. I am sure the store management probably encouraged her to do this, but it didn’t matter to me a bit. It was kind. Her delivery was genuine and it made me feel good. As I pulled out into traffic, still smiling, I couldn’t help but think about how important it is to be kind to one another. She had just altered the course of my day in a wonderfully simple, yet highly positive way.

Last night we performed our regular once-per-week catering job. It’s the Fellowship Meal for the church where I work (doing finances), and I am Facebook friends with most of the people who attend. If you subscribe to this blog you already know that I adore cooking. Few things make me happier than mastering a new dish or preparing pretty food. I regularly share my food porn and my recipes on Facebook, because it’s what I enjoy. (Who doesn’t love food?)

Admittedly, there was a time when I wouldn’t share this blog anywhere because I feared what people may think. My food blogs could be construed as bragging; my inspirational writing could be construed as me believing I am above others; my angel musings could be construed as me being delusional or crazy. I was worried that people I work with might think I am (gasp) “new age”, even though I am actually the furthest thing from it. I was worried about offending people who don’t like what I like… You get where I am going with this.

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When I turned 54 a month ago today, I made the decision to live in authenticity. To me, this means the inside matches the outside; it means sharing exactly who I am without concern over what other people think or whether they believe the same as I do. It means that what others think of me is none of my business. Am I living my life in accordance to what I believe God wants? Am I feeling good in my own heart? To me, nothing else should be of higher importance.  Besides, if we were all exactly the same, where would joy live?  Ponder this a while. I’ll wait.

Last night just as we were about to serve dinner, one of the church congregants -(a lady I love to “silly-banter” with)- came across the room to tell me she wanted to tell me something. I was expecting our normal silliness, but instead she was so sincere. She proceeded to say the nicest things to me with regard to the variety of things I do well in my life; the cooking, the writing, the accounting, etc. I don’t want to repeat the entire exchange here, but it was one of the loveliest and most unexpected compliments I have ever received. Apparently, she’s been reading my blogs and so she is knowing me better. <grin> What she didn’t know, (or maybe she did), was just how timely she was, as I’ve been feeling rather low since Easter.

Driving home last night, I was telling Charlie what she said when tears formed in his eyes. He took my hand in his and said, “It’s all true, Bobbe. You don’t get enough credit or give yourself enough credit for who you are.” He doesn’t know it, but every time he gets emotional when I tell him about something like this, it cements the fact that I know I am exactly where I belong.

I don’t know if it’s true that I don’t get enough credit. (I am aware I don’t give myself enough credit because people tell me this all the time!) The reason I share this is to illustrate that kindness matters. Two times in the past twenty four hours, I’ve experienced unexpected kindnesses and my spirit has done a complete about-face. In fact, I feel transformed.

I am a generally positive person. Imagine if I wasn’t? How might these kindnesses have affected me even more?

Thank you God, for those people who unabashedly offer pieces of heart. Please help me to persist in trying to follow this path as well.

May pieces of heart sprinkle all of the paths we travel and may God grant us the insight to know when to sprinkle our own.

Happy Friday!

Love, Bobbe

 

Church Perks

This popped up in my memories today and it’s just the thing I needed to read. I love how the Universe works this way. ❤

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Very often when least expected, God sends a messenger.

People are shocked when they learn that I suffer tremendously with internal issues of self-worth. Because of this I am nearly always questioning myself. “Did I do that well enough?”; “Am I on the right path?”;”Does anything I do even matter?”;”Does anyone even care about me, really?”;”Am I doing enough?”;”What is wrong with me?”. I could go on and on.

I say people are shocked when they learn this, because I present myself as the exact opposite. Most people who know me think I am the most confident person around and they would never dream that inside, very often I am a mess.

When depression attempts to pull me under, I go on the offense; slapping the fake smile on, forcing myself to “go the extra mile”, etc. I have learned through years of practice that when I am successful with my efforts, God always meets me half way with something glorious. This is what carries me through.

The other day I was in my tiny office in the back of the church when I heard an African man talking to the ladies at the front desk. First of all, I love that accent, so my ears perked up when he started talking.

He had been to a ministry several blocks away from our location in order to receive financial assistance with his rent. As he told his story, I could tell he was very upset. He explained that he understood we are not affiliated with them, but as he was driving by the church, he felt compelled to come inside to talk through it.

Apparently, over a month ago he’d been granted financial assistance (by the other ministry) with his rent so he thought everything was fine. However, when he retrieved his mail that morning, he found an eviction notice. Fearful, he jumped in the car and went back to the Ministry, only to be treated as if he’d never been there.

Under ordinary circumstances I am not the one who handles people who walk in the office for help, but on this day, because of the dire situation, I felt compelled to intervene. So I went out, introduced myself, asked for his paperwork, told him to have a seat, and went back to my office to call the person who leads that Ministry. As it happens, in addition to my part-time work at the church, I also do the finances for the Ministry in question.

Coincidence? I don’t believe in such things.

After a few back and forth calls, it was determined that his file had been misplaced and indeed, the payment for his rent had not been made. A few more calls were made, including one to his Landlord, who accepted the explanation and agreed to wait to receive the past-due rent and I was able to walk back out and tell him his situation was remedied. By this time, hours had passed, and this poor man who had been in the office so upset and nervous finally had relief. He thanked everyone in the outer office and then asked to speak with me privately.

Inside my office, he took both of my hands in his and asked me if I would allow him to pray with me. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to this man, a stranger, praise God for having prompted him to stop into my office. He thanked God for me; he asked God to continue to place me in the path of people who need my help; he told God to continue to use me as his instrument; to continue to allow me to minister, not just in the finance office, but in the community. He said that when he entered the office he was scared and afraid and he felt alone and hopeless and that because of my actions, he was leaving renewed and restored and secure in the knowledge that God still listens to prayers and offers aid in remarkable ways. He mentioned the angels and he called me “one of God’s earth angels”. It was beautiful.

In other words,God met me half-way with something glorious that I would never have imagined for myself. Depression lifted. Joy inserted.

It was as if the Lord, Himself, stood right in front of me and said, “Yes, daughter, you ARE worth it. You ARE appreciated. You ARE loved. You ARE doing exactly what I expect of you. I love you. I love you. Carry on.”

And so I will.

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Blessing You & You & You & …

To bless means to wish, unconditionally, total, unrestricted good for others and events from the deepest wellspring in the innermost chamber of your heart: it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with utter awe that which is always a gift from the Creator. He who is hallowed by your blessing is set aside, consecrated, holy, whole.

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Blessing:
God’s favor and protection
– may God continue to give us his blessing
A prayer asking for such favor and protection
– a priest gave a blessing as the ship was launched
Grace said before or after a meal
A beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being
– great intelligence can be a curse as well as a blessing
– it’s a blessing we’re alive
A person’s sanction or support


If anyone were to overhear what goes on in my brain on a daily basis, she might think I either sound like a broken record or someone who has lost her senses. The mere thought of this makes me giggle because; Oh, the things I hear and do and say in my brain!

I suspect that as a child, someone I revered must have told me to be conscious of other people at all times. I can remember being in church watching all of the people file through the aisles on the way to communion. It was a game for me to try to Bless each and every person that walked by without missing a single soul. The times I was able to keep up and master this, I left with a huge sense of joy at my accomplishment and an even bigger sense of wonder about what goodness might be waiting for that person in the future.

These days Charlie laughs at me when sometimes in the middle of watching a television show or attending a lecture where someone has shared a poignant real-life story, I’ll raise my hands towards them in silence. My heart is always saying, “God Bless you on your journey, thank you for sharing”. Having now lived with me as long as he has, he doesn’t ask me what I’m doing. He knows. I’ve even taught him to Bless our vegetable and herb plants to thank them before we cut them for use in a meal.

I wonder what the world might be like if we spent most of our days conscious of the fact that we’re all on a journey, trying our best to get through the challenges life presents to us? I wonder what might happen if we were actually spending our time Blessing one another, over spending our time being oblivious to one another? I see people every single day driving in the car–one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the smartphone, scrolling or talking. What if we put those phones down and instead spent our time in the car, communing with God, just praying for the strangers we pass on the road?

Years ago someone anonymously sent the following article to my email box and I saved it because it speaks volumes. It speaks to what goes on in my head and heart every moment of every day. We ask one another for prayers, but how many Blessings are we bestowing?


The Gentle Art of Blessing
By: Pierre Pradervand

As you walk, bless the city in which you live, its government and teachers, its nurses and street sweepers, its children and bankers, its priests and prostitutes. The minute anyone expresses the least aggression or unkindness to you, respond with a blessing: bless them totally, sincerely, joyfully, for such blessings are a shield which protects them from the ignorance of their misdeed, and deflects the arrow that was aimed at you.

To bless means to wish, unconditionally, total, unrestricted good for others and events from the deepest wellspring in the innermost chamber of your heart: it means to hallow, to hold in reverence, to behold with utter awe that which is always a gift from the Creator. He who is hallowed by your blessing is set aside, consecrated, holy, whole. To bless is yet to invoke divine care upon, to think or speak gratefully for, to confer happiness upon – although we ourselves are never the bestow-er, but simply the joyful witnesses of Life’s abundance.

To bless all without discrimination of any sort is the ultimate form of giving, because those you bless will never know from whence came the sudden ray of sun that burst through the clouds of their skies, and you will rarely be a witness to the sunlight in their lives.

When something goes completely askew in your day, some unexpected event knocks down your plans and you too also, burst into blessing: for life is teaching you a lesson, and the very event you believe to be unwanted, you yourself called forth, so as to learn the lesson you might balk against were you not to bless it. Trials are blessings in disguise, and hosts of angels follow in their path.

To bless is to acknowledge the omnipresent, universal beauty hidden to material eyes; it is to activate that law of attraction which, from the furthest reaches of the universe, will bring into your life exactly what you need to experience and enjoy.

When you pass a prison, mentally bless its inmates in their innocence and freedom, their gentleness, pure essence and unconditional forgiveness; for one can only be prisoner of one’s self-image, and a free man can walk unshackled in the courtyard of a jail, just as citizens of countries where freedom reigns can be prisoners when fear lurks in their thoughts.

When you pass a hospital, bless its patients in their present wholeness, for even in their suffering, this wholeness awaits in them to be discovered. When your eyes behold a man in tears, or seemingly broken by life, bless him in his vitality and joy: for the material senses present but the inverted image of the ultimate splendor and perfection which only the inner eye beholds.

It is impossible to bless and to judge at the same time. So hold constantly as a deep, hallowed, intoned thought that desire to bless, for truly then shall you become a peacemaker, and one day you shall, everywhere, behold the very face of God.


From The Angels:

divine-guidance Divine Guidance: Trust and follow your intuition. It is God and the angels speaking to you.

You are being Divinely guided right now. The gut feelings you have, the knowingness, the visions, or the inner voice are all trying to tell you something, and it is very important that you trust and follow this guidance.

If you drew more than one card, pay close attention to the cards that are on either side of the “Divine Guidance” card-they contain important instructions for you. These nearby cards feature facets of the message that the angels seek to impress upon you.

answered-prayer Answered Prayer: Fear not, beloved one! Your prayers have been heard and answered.

All of your prayers are always answered. Sometimes you may not feel this way, because the answer comes in unexpected ways. Perhaps you receive an intuitive feeling or a new opportunity appears-or a book falls off the shelf. The angels answer our prayers very often by giving us ideas or information in these everyday ways.

By drawing this card, the angels request that you be extra observant. Notice everything that you hear, say, think, and feel. Be especially alert to help that comes to you, and be sure to accept that help. You do deserve this assistance, and many times God enlists people to act as Earth angels who bring you answers to your prayers.

image Archangel Michael:“I am with you, giving you the courage to make life changes that will help you work on your Divine life purpose.”

Additional Message: “I have come to you because you asked God for safety and protection, and because you asked about your life purpose. Since you are a light-worker, I am overseeing the fruition of your Divine life purpose. You have been a light-worker for a long time, and you have felt different from others, isolated at times. Be assured that you have never been alone, and that you never will be alone.”

“When you feel pushed to make a change at work or at home, that may be my influence, encouraging you to make your life’s purpose a high priority. I can rearrange your schedule and support you in other ways to make your path smooth and harmonious. Simply ask me, and it is done. I will also help you feel safe and comfortable during your life’s changes.”


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Today’s Prayers:

May the Warm Winds of Heaven
Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit
Bless all who enter there.
May your Moccasins
Make happy tracks
in many snows,
and may the Rainbow
Always touch your shoulder.
~Cherokee Blessing

Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you.
~Pueblo Blessing
The great blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach; but we shut our eyes, and, like people in the dark, we fall foul upon the very thing we search for, without finding it. ~Seneca Blessing

 


Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
— 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)

Why Must I Write?

I wrote this post for another website but this morning I found it here, so I decided to share it.

What seems like four hundred years ago; before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress or even MySpace existed; before Apple, before Windows, before PC’s, Lap tops and even before word processors; there were yellow pads, composition notebooks and black Bic Pens. These were and still are my favorite tools of expressive writing.

I can remember being a wee tot visiting and being awed by the supply room at my father’s company. All of those shelves just full of colored papers, notebooks, steno pads, yellow pads, packages of pens and pencils, markers and the like! Whenever I was there visiting I was allowed to go into that room and select some paper and pens to work with. I always selected the notebooks and pens and I can still recall being thrilled to sit at a “big person desk” and scratch away as if I were working hard for the company! Looking back, I truly believe those times shaped my love of new pens and notebooks.

In the sixth grade we studied “The Diary of Anne Frank” and it is this book that I credit as being the impetus of my lifelong love affair with writing. I came away from reading that story with the incredible “new-to-me” idea that I could actually sit down and chronicle my thoughts and feelings about life. Anne Frank decided to think of her diary as a friend, so she named it, “Kitty”. Sixth grade Bobbe thought this was a such a cool idea, I named my own diary, “Monet”. (The memory of this makes me burst into laughter. Monet was actually the given name of our standard poodle who we called, “Moe”, because we all thought the name Monet was too pretentious! Somehow I thought, “Monet” would be a good name for my pretend diary friend. (Don’t Worry, it was short-lived.)

As you might imagine, my sixth-grade diary entries consisted of things that I considered to be earth-shattering at the time, “Dear Monet. Today we went to Actors Theater and we watched the play, ‘Anne Frank’. I was so happy because “so-and-so” sat next to me!” ; “Dear Monet, today Sr. Clara yelled at us for no reason at ALL!”, etc.

Aside: I have searched my house high and low, I know that little diary is hidden in some corner because I was just looking at it laughing. I really wanted to photograph it for this blog. I will keep writing and keep searching and hopefully it will show up in time for me to finish this!’ Until then, here are just a few journals that happen to be sitting within arms reach. The little one is from my 7th and 8th grade years. You can’t really see it but there are two more notebooks underneath the open ones. Yes, I have always written on a regular basis.

Anyway, I made it a practice to write in that little book daily. It may not have been great writing, but it shaped me to make a good habit of recording my thoughts and feelings regularly. Looking back through my writings it strikes me just how much I have always written about my relationship with God and all of the gratitude I have for His presence in my life. Very often my little girl entries were entirely about trying to be a better person in order to please Him. Interesting stuff, considering  the fact that other than attending Catholic school and Mass on Sundays, no one in my life was force-feeding me information about God.

As an adult I still find myself drawn to write about my feelings and experiences. Very often, writing is therapy for me, (you may have noticed this if you’ve read any of my prior blog entries), but I have also found through years of blogging on my personal site, that when I share my true life experiences, I am touching others who might be needing a lift or help not feeling alone.

This is really why I write.

I never feel more alive and whole than when I am sharing my heart through my writing. Early in life my little letters to “Monet” gave way to recording the events of each day; who I encountered and how I was feeling about it. That morphed into letters to God, notes to the angels, prayers, and lots of true diary entries that spoke of happiness and excitement but also of depression, confusion and pain. Today as I was leafing through that little journal with the pink writing, I was laughing hysterically, reading aloud to Charlie, some of the incredibly stupid entries. (Occasionally, he would belly-laugh too.) But then I’d come across an unexpected little post about being scared and sad because my parents were downstairs fighting and the memories flood right back. This is another reason I write. It helps me remember where I’ve come from. It reminds me of my strength when I’m not feeling particularly strong, and this is what I want to help others to feel as well.

I can’t remember the occasion for the actual FIRST blog I ever wrote or even what I wrote about, specifically. What I remember, instead, is the flood of thank you emails I received because of it. Somewhere along the line I started incorporating my true life experiences together with how I prayed and learned to cope and the response from total strangers is what compels me to write even to this day. I wasn’t doing anything special. I was just sharing the truth about how hard life sometimes is. What I learned is that there are a gazillion people out there scared to death about what other people might think, so they stay mired in unhappiness and this is why I write. I guess I talk about the things people are scared to talk about, even if it means baring my sometimes ugly past and soul.

I don’t even remember writing that little diary entry up there and that’s a good thing. Seeing it reminds me that all things pass and all things are possible.

And so I continue to write in the hopes my words might find themselves in the heart of the person or persons who most need them. That’s usually what ends up happening.

Life has a way of working out that way.

With love,

Bobbe

Reflections.

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Try as I may, I am having the worst time concentrating today. For some time now I’ve been feeling the weight of the world on my heart. It seems every place a person looks these days, there is evidence of discord and then to wake up this morning and see the Las Vegas news? My heart is literally so heavy, I’m having trouble breathing today. I cannot even wrap my brain around this incident. I’ve been weeping off and on all day.

One would think that by the year 2017, our human race would have evolved much further past the current senseless violence and division among our people. For heaven’s sake we are about to have driver-less passenger vehicles and packages delivered by drones, yet we are still divided and fighting among ourselves over things that absolutely will NOT matter when we pass on from this life. Now we are having acts of violence like the one that happened in Vegas (not to the same magnitude, granted) on an almost weekly basis?

What happened to “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”?

I totally get that this psycho, P.O.S person who executed this massacre probably wasn’t part of the current, “I’m protesting this”; “I’m not standing for that” group of people, but if I am physically feeling the symptoms of such a level of hate and discord in the USA right now and I consider myself to be a pretty rational woman, what must others who are not sane be feeling and can we expect MORE of this? Yes. I am so sad to imagine we can and we probably will.

At this very moment they have reported 58 dead and 515 injured and I am seeing on social media that some of our ridiculously overpaid, under-talented and certainly under-educated are saying that this is a case of “white privilege”? In just about every feed, someone seriously blames Trump for this and arguments ensue.

This morning at work I was speaking to someone I know and love about a happy occasion about to take place and she said, “Well, I’ve heard he’s a conservative and that might be a problem.” Add another dagger to my already heavy heart.

People, this is NOT the way.

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Once upon a time I was talking to a family member about racism. I said to this person, who was expressing fear about people of other races, “I know one thing for certain. When we pass over and are standing before God, I highly doubt He will make the declaration that, ‘ALL of YOU –insert whatever race, nationality, gender, political party or sexuality you wish -GET TO THE BACK OF THE LINE, I will be taking care of the white, Roman Catholics first. Step aside.’

No, instead we will be judged on the contents of our hearts and the good works we did on earth. How well did we treat each other; what did we do for one another; did we forgive others trespasses; etc.”

I completely understand that there are people who rise up in protest believing with the whole heart that good is being done. Look around. It’s not. Get together and work on positive solutions.

Above all else, remember that we need each other. I am usually not one to throw around Bible verses but at this point it’s important to revisit the following:

Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”

Luke 6: 31-50

And do not bother to come to me saying that it’s GOD that is allowing this to happen. He gave us FREE will. WE are the ones causing it AND the ones allowing it.

If you are experiencing similar feelings to mine, I implore you to examine your use of social media. Stop blindly re-posting things. Stop blindly following things you haven’t fully checked out. Don’t join protests that are just attention seeking and hateful. Ask yourself your true motives before joining anything, before re-posting anything, before you inadvertently fan the flames.

Listen to others with the intention of understanding what their feelings are and speak with the intention of being understood. In the words of Don Ruiz Miguel, “Be impeccable with your word”! Yelling and screaming and name calling and being angry because someone else doesn’t share your exact views and experiences is ridiculous and futile!

 

Seek out organizations that are actually making positive changes and join the ones that resonate with you. Make a promise to yourself to BE part of positive change in the world. Refuse to fuel the world with anything but your love and the follow through on your good intentions. Positive energy always brings back more positive energy.

I work four gazillion jobs so it’s nearly impossible for me to add onto my already too crazy schedule but I still feel like I want to offer something to the world in exchange for my Blessings. My husband and I are following the lead of another person we know and we are making up “snack and supply” bags which we will carry in our cars to hand out to the homeless and transient people we encounter. I got the idea a couple of weeks ago when I kept encountering the same man on my way home from work. Twice I stopped and handed him a full bottle of water because it was so hot out I couldn’t stand to look at him and think of him being thirsty.

What will you do?

Sorry this isn’t my usual blog, but things are heavy right now.

Love and prayers to all.

~Bobbe


PS-I did write another more uplifting blog on my other site, Femcalibur I would totally love it if you would click through and read it. I am blogging with a great group of ladies. Once a week we all write a blog on the same topic. This week’s subject was, “Keeping it Real”. Lots of good stuff over there!

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Alejandro Villanueva, I salute you.

I came here to share that since it’s finally the FALL Season and I just finished a sweet blog on Fall for another site I am part of:  Femcalibur) -I was inspired to make my first batch of roasted butternut squash soup this morning. It is delicious and I wanted to share the recipe.
Instead I’m sitting here with my heart in my throat all weepy…

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I came here to share that since it’s finally the FALL Season and I just finished a sweet blog on Fall for another site I am part of:  Femcalibur) -I was inspired to make my first batch of roasted butternut squash soup this morning. It is delicious and I wanted to share the recipe.

Instead I’m sitting here with my heart in my throat all weepy after I just made the mistake of reading a bunch of Facebook posts about how the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in the locker room today in lieu of getting involved in the current “Boycott the National Anthem” foolishness. One lone Steeler, Alejandro Villanueva, a Veteran who served three tours in Afghanistan and didn’t begin his football career until 2014 because of it, stood alone during the Anthem with his hand over his heart. When I saw this, I lost it.

I was compelled to look him up and I found an article from SBNation where they quoted him as saying the following:

“I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year … when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year.”

“I will be the first one to hold hands with Colin Kaepernick and do something about the way minorities are being treated in the United States, the injustice that is happening with police brutality, the justice system, inequalities in pay,” Villanueva said. “You can’t do it by looking away from the people that are trying to protect our freedom and our country.”

Accross the field, the Chicago Bears stood, arm in arm during the National Anthem. I cried about this as well.

What in the world is happening in our country? I am both appalled and heart broken. I try and try to understand these groups, but I cannot wrap my heart around it. My heart always goes to my sweet, loving Jesus, and what would He think of all of this blatant hatred and disrespect? I understand that racism is alive and well in this country, but it’s alive and well across the globe, too. These protests do nothing but spread the hatred and further divide us all. It may sound incredibly naive and stupid but wouldn’t it be cool to see both teams arm in arm in a circle during the Anthem? That sends a clear message of unity, which is far better than a message of ignorance.

In my opinion, refusing to stand for the Anthem of the country in which you currently reside makes zero sense. If you cannot stand and place your hand over your heart for the National Anthem of the United States of America, you need a current passport and a ticket somewhere else.

My father and my Grandfather and my Uncle and countless friends and loved ones served or are currently serving in the military. Not honoring our Anthem isn’t a small thing, in my opinion. Wonder what would happen in ANY other country if this was the behavior? Guarantee it wouldn’t be tolerated. Besides this, it isn’t making a statement about a thing other than ignorance.

I wonder what would happen if all of us who are employed chose to go to work this morning and take a knee in protest of something? How long would we keep our jobs?

Speaking of taking a knee, I said to my husband last night that if they continue to take a knee during the Anthem, it’s fine by me. They are so ignorant that they don’t realize taking a knee is symbolic of humbling oneself before God (Or a Knight or King, but I will stick with the former).

I will just choose to see them on their knees as representative of their deep humility and gratitude to God for having the jobs they do; being paid mult-millions to play their favorite childhood game. I also choose to see them on their knee in prayer to God to keep this country free and safe from harm and also for peace across our land.

I don’t watch or follow football anyway, but if I did, I would seriously consider turning it off this season.

Allejandro Villanueva, I salute you. You got it right. Thank you for your service.

PS—For anyone who thinks I don’t understand the reasoning behind not standing for the flag, let me assure you that I do. I know this isn’t about protesting the flag or the Anthem, HOWEVER, since this demonstration  involves not standing for the Anthem, it actually indirectly/directly IS.

Here are My Cooking Influences. What are yours?

I am often asked how I learned to cook and I am often at a loss as to how to answer this. Truth is, I’m still learning; no one taught me; and yet EVERYONE teaches me! This is how I got started…

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Major Raymond A. Rodgers. My Granddad.

One of my favorite memories of my Granddad, Major Raymond A. Rodgers, was the time he tried (in vain) to teach me how to make a simple roux. It was after the death of my Grandma and he was living with us. He happened to love gravy and he thought it would be a good idea to teach me to make it. In my defense, I was about 22 and the very last thing in the world I had interest in was learning to make gravy. I hated gravy, but I loved my Granddad, so I was up for the challenge.

He started out by demonstrating the proper technique, then told me stories about how he used to make it in the army and finished up with a batch of really silky white gravy. Then it was my turn. After the third attempt resulted in yet a third pile of gluey goo and a thousand giggles later, Granddad retired to his room smiling and laughing in defeat! We laughed about that experience for years following.

I often think of him now when I am making up sauces to go on whatever dish I’ve created. I know he would be so proud that I finally know how to make a decent cream gravy and an even better sauce!

I have been asked a gazillion times where I learned to cook. I didn’t grow up in the kitchen with my mother or my grandmother learning family recipes. In fact, I didn’t even start cooking at home in earnest until around 2009.

I actually credit part of my cooking talent to the old show, “Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood”. I know it sounds very silly, but it’s true. If you ever watched the show as a kid, you will remember that at least once per show, Mr. Rodgers showed us how something is made. Often, the show would visit factories to watch how every day items such as crayons or pencils were made. These were my favorite segments. I think they taught me how to sit back, observe and learn and they are definitely what led me to love watching the early cooking shows such as; Julia Child, The Frugal Gourmet, The Cajun Cook, and the BBC2 series, The Two Fat Ladies. (That last show was a total hoot. My sister and I used to roll around on the floor laughing at those two motorcycling ladies!) Oh and I cannot forget to mention how I used to (and still do) adore Emeril Lagasse! (BAM!)

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Fred Rodgers
Two fat ladies
The Two Fat Ladies

Long about 2010, Charlie and I moved to a new house that had a wonderful kitchen. It wasn’t fancy; just had a lot of space. One night he was about to make something and out of the blue I declared that I would like to make something new I’d seen on television. I cannot even recall what it was, but I do remember the satisfaction I felt when it turned out beautifully and Charlie scarfed it all down. From that point forward, I did 98% of the dinner cooking in our home. My love of cooking shows grew and “The Food Channel” became the most watched network and explored web site in our home!

Working in a church has afforded me the unique opportunity of spending some time in an industrial kitchen once per week. Although my real job is in the finance office, Charlie and I were Grandfathered into preparing the weekly Fellowship Meal for 100-125 people. It started with someone else deciding the menus and purchasing the food. We would be left with instructions on how to prepare and serve it and eventually, we took over the entire thing. To me, it’s like planning a party each week, and I dearly love it when we pack up to leave, exhausted and sweaty, knowing that we prepared a great meal that left everyone satisfied!

My Mother often asks me how in the world we are able to do meals on such a large scale. She usually says that the mere thought of being responsible for all that food would make her too nervous to do it. This is when I stop and realize that if I sat around thinking about it like that, I wouldn’t be able to do it myself!

Tonight is the last Fellowship Meal for this season. We’ll take off a little over a month and return in July, so we’ve decided to make beef tenderloin. It’s a bit of a daunting task, IF I think about it, so I will just end here with the promise of photos tomorrow.

What are some of your cooking influences? My current favorites are, “The Pioneer Woman”, and “Barefoot Contessa”, but mostly, I just like to explore recipes and then tweak them to make them my own.

I’d love to hear how you got started cooking! Please share!

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This is me in the church kitchen a couple of years ago! Not the most attractive photo but I think you can tell I love being there!!  ❤