Ice Cream Bread

I was casually, innocently perusing facebook a few months ago.  I was just checking in on my friends and family, not expecting to find ONE OF THE BEST BREAD RECIPES EVER!!

Ice Cream Bread

Ice Cream Bread

Phew.  Sorry about the screaming.  Thanks to my “cousin” Julie Long for this amazing idea!  When I tried to go back to her page and find it, I was not successful so I found it online at this link:  http://www.thehungryhousewife.com/2011/03/ice-cream-bread.html

Incredibly easy.

Amazingly delicious.

Abundantly flavorful.

Endless possibilities.

Enough superlatives for you?

I used Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns (hehe…buns).  The results are better if you use a “full fat” ice cream.  I also didn’t let my ice cream soften enough, as can be seen in the above picture where flour is ev-ery-wh-ere. Oops.  I also added a sprinkling of brown sugar to the top before I baked it…just in case the bread wasn’t sweet enough.  It was sweet enough…mmmmmm.   I know Julie added some colorful sprinkles to her ~ so be creative and have fun!  After all, what fun-ner food is there than Ice Cream?!

Ice Cream Bread

Ice Cream Bread

Ice Cream Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ice cream, any flavor, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour OR 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray one 8×4 bread pan with baking spray
  3. Mix softened ice cream and flour together until just combined.
  4. Scoop into prepared pan and smooth out.
  5. Bake for around 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean or with few crumbs attached.
  6. Remove from pan and allow to cool (or eat immediately as I did!)
http://justalittlebs.com/2013/07/27/ice-cream-bread/

So good.  So easy.  This loaf will not last the morning at my house.

Ice Cream Bread

Ice Cream Bread

Posted on July 27th, 2013 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

I said, “Yes.”

My friends and I are reading Love Does by Bob Goff in our weekly bible study group.  Among today’s questions regarding Chapter 9 was one that asked if we had ever been asked by God to do something and said “Yes.”  And it further questioned what that experience looked like.  I didn’t answer it within the group, partly because I have discussed my answer with these ladies many times before, and also because my answer takes me to an emotional place I wasn’t prepared to enter into today. But I said a big, “Yes” to God several years ago.

I remember it clearly.  My husband and I were in our kitchen in our Tuscarora Drive house.  We were dancing around the kitchen island with our three girls, listening to music.  My husband chose a new cd and song, and as it began to play he sang along, “Come on Becky… let’s go for a ride.”  I hadn’t heard this song before and the fact that it had my name in it made it one that I listened to even more eagerly than others….as if it were written just for me.  The fact that my husband was singing the lyrics to me made the song sound even more like a personal invitation.

Here is the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zCnDulGkaU

This may seem like an innocent “Christian” song that happens to have my name in it, but in reality it was life-changing.  Within those few minutes listening to my husband sing along with Mr. Rice, I felt the world shift on its axle ever so slightly.  It is hard to explain, but I heard someone asking me those words in the song.

“C’mon, Becky, let’s go for a ride?”

I felt as though a pause button had been pushed.  I recollect a frozen smile on my face, trying to act nonchalant around my family in the midst of something happening that I could not recognize or describe…it was surreal; it was dreamlike; it was ephemeral.  But it was very, very concrete.  The moment passed quickly, but I felt a major shift happening for which I had no words or context.

At the time, I only focused on my husband singing those lyrics.  We have similar beliefs, but vastly different experiences when it comes to our Christianity.  My husband’s background is very evangelical and he likes to wear his faith on his sleeve.  My background is very Catholic and my faith at the time proved a more private issue.  He liked (likes) to challenge my beliefs and ask me why I believe what I do which is often frustrating for me and pushed me way out of my comfort zone.  As I listened to that song, I thought the physical and emotional stirring I was experiencing was between he and I.

On that evening in our kitchen, I said “yes” to my husband.  I said it inside my own head, not ready to share the vulnerable nature of my answer with him quite yet.  Up to that point in our marriage, I had fought pretty hard against his challenging questions, often defending my faith because he was irritating me rather than because I fully trusted what I was arguing.  My conscious decision that evening was to take this journey with him instead of near him.  That doesn’t mean I was ready to shuck my faith and beliefs, just ready to consider his as well.

It was a significant alteration in our relationship, even though I didn’t verbalize it to him until much later.  What I did not realize at that moment, was that the song’s question was not really coming from Rob.

Kate died later that year.

In the days following Kate’s death, I was slammed with the memory of that song and that transformative evening.  And it was in those dark days of grief and soul-emptying, that I realized I had said “Yes” to God that night.  I wholeheartedly trust that God had asked me to take this specific journey with Him.  I don’t believe He was asking me if I would choose for Kate to die, but I am firmly convinced that He invited me to allow her death to be a place where He might take root…in me and for others.  It was only in my empty, hollowed-out sorrow that I was able to recognize the question God was really asking me, AND to acknowledge I had told Him yes.

It was not an easy pill to swallow.  There were (and are) days that I raged inside; the nerve of a God who would ask me to take such a journey.  How dare He??  There were (and are) days that I felt completely inadequate to be such a vessel.  But in the midst of the worst heartache and distress, I felt God’s presence.  I felt the Spirit give me a moment of joy and gratitude on the very evening following our loss.  I felt carried by more friends and family than I knew existed.  I felt strength that can only be explained by the presence of God.

I said “Yes” to Him and He held me in the palm of His hand.  And I see now that it was a path that made redemption possible in Kate’s story.  I do not mean to suggest that I am the only redemptive factor, but that God used me to bring redemption in an otherwise tragic narrative.  It has given me a “piece of peace,” which ironically was a name I had given to my sweet Kate only months prior to losing her.

I haven’t listened to the song previously mentioned since I lost my daughter.  In fact, posting it here is the first time I have listened to it since that important night years ago.  But as I listen, I say again, “Yes.”

I renew my vow to walk this precipitous journey not simply near God and my husband, but with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on July 26th, 2013 by LilBS  |  3 Comments »

Outnumbered and… Bruised

So it’s starting to happen.  The three littlest people in this house are turning into “real boys.”  I’ve been slowly realizing that the tides, they are a-turning. Oh, I knew technically that I was outnumbered.  We have three girls and four boys in this house.  And although I could count our newest furry family member on “Team Girl,” it has no bearing on the topic on which I’m about to share way too much information:  the potty.

I grew up in a household where the girls outnumbered the boys 4 – 1.  Because of this lovely majority, the toilet seat was never an issue.  In my current family; however, I discovered an ugly truth in a painful way.  Boys would rather pee standing up…with the toilet seat up…and leave it that way…for the mama to sit down upon, realize it at the last moment, and flail to keep the tush from hitting the water, banging the left elbow against the door molding in an effort to right herself before the inevitable splash.

It wasn’t pretty.

Neither is my bruised elbow.  (I am being a little dramatic here.  The elbow only hurt for a few minutes, but it makes for some good drama, right?!)

But as my indignant mom-self rushed forth to find the errant seat-leaver-upper and chastise him in a way only a former high school teacher could, I paused.  Which was better?  Would I be any less irritated to sit upon a seat that has been, er… sprinkled??  Should my boys be granted the “majority rule” and be allowed to leave up the seat?  Should I train them to sit or even kneel at the toilet so as to spare the delicate feminine backsides of this house?  Why aren’t outhouses popular anymore?  And why does my elbow hurt?

It’s such a dilemma.  Only several months ago I was cleaning up “Lake Colt” on a weekly basis as he learned to listen to his body signals and go “before it was too late,”  not to mention his lack of aim.  Should I really be testing these waters so soon?  Should I just be grateful that more is landing in rather than out?  But then perhaps my expectations are too low.

My youngest child is officially potty-trained.  I should be basking in the glow of weekly diaper-savings and cute new undies, not deliberating my next move in the potty wars.  Ugh.  Will it never end?

The decision I have made will not be based upon majority rules or backside behaviors, but upon proper manners.  I have spent many a moment (mostly) patiently modeling and reminding my children about good manners.  I am pleased to say that they are generally more polite than the average bear.  This, too will become another page in that folder.  I will have to frame it carefully so as not to entice the boys into creating mischievous traps into which their sisters may plunge.  The outhouse may become a threat for the cold winter months, if necessary.  And I can clearly see bathroom duty shifting to the male sex as they get a little older.

Ok, now I feel better.  Like any good teacher or coach, it feels good to have a game plan ~ a winning strategy.  I just hope there aren’t too many more injuries endured during the battle. (At least to me ~ the girls are on their own.)

Posted on July 19th, 2013 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

Summer 2013, Part 1

So here are a few gems gleaned from our summer so far:

1.  If you have lots of children around and offer popsicles which they eat while venturing in and out of both the house and the pool, raccoons will hang from your front door handle licking the sweet residue.

2.  If you get a new puppy, she will choose the most appropriate place in which to poop while she is potty-training:  in the poop-lovers’ bedroom (aka the boys’ room).

3.  If your children are sleep-deprived from late night firefly capturing and early morning sun-beckoning, they will describe dreams of helmets made of diamonds and gold and crystals so heavy, giants must be relied upon to remove them.

4.  A child’s toots in mom & dad’s bed at night are not funny when they are really diarrhea.

5.  Your 4 year old’s incessant questioning will not cease when he/she turn 5.

6.  The question “What are we going to do today?” will be asked by both the 5 year old and the 12 year old each day…many times…and will mostly result in whining.

7.  Freezing a few flavors of Kool-Aid in ice cube trays, and adding them to a glass of Sprite (or generic substitute) will create comments such as, “You’re the best ever, Mom!”  and “Wow, Mom, you rock.”

8.  If your 3 year old develops an imaginary friend named “Island,” just roll with it.  He will play the games and see the movies with his “friend” that you can’t fit into your summer plans.  Plus, Island lets him win every time.

9.  Your cobwebs, left untreated, may develop cobwebs.

10.  Ceiling fans still become incredibly dusty even when in constant use.  Defies all reason.  Well, all of this mom’s reason ~ of which there is not much left.  Here’s to half of the summer come and gone.  And surviving the remainder of it!

 

Posted on July 17th, 2013 by LilBS  |  3 Comments »

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

So my Paige is turning 11.  I cannot really even process that yet.  In this summer of crazy schedules, multiple summer camps, a garage sale, a new puppy, and Candy Crush, I have not had time to process a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.  It’s very possible that by the time I realize she is no longer 10, she will be getting ready to turn 12.  Ah well.  I know there are fun moments.  I think I can remember smiling a whole bunch and laughing out loud at least a few times so far this summer so that’s something.

Anyway…

Paige is not a cake lover.  Paige DOES love ice cream.  No, that’s not exactly correct.  Paige ADORES ice cream.  No, maybe RELISHES ice cream is a better way to put it.  You get the point.  So somewhere along my pinterest-ing, I pinned an ice cream sandwich cake under my “birthday gifting” board http://pinterest.com/bshadowlong/birthday-gifting/ and when I showed it to Paige, she was extremely excited.

And I have to say it’s an amazing cake.

And pretty cheap.

And super easy.

And delicious.

The site where I found the recipe is http://sylviagarza.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/ice-cream-sandwich-cake/

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Ingredients

  • 16 Ice Cream Sandwiches, softened
  • 16 oz. Cool Whip
  • 12 oz. Chocolate Fudge Topping
  • Candy Toppings (I used chocolate chips and M&M’s – about 1 cup of each)
  • Chocolate Syrup for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Layer 8 ice cream sandwiches side by side, pressing them together a bit in a 9×13 pan.
  2. Spread evenly 1/2 of the Cool Whip and 1/2 of the Chocolate Fudge Topping.
  3. Sprinkle on 8 oz. of candy topping.
  4. Repeat with another layer of the same.
  5. Drizzle with Chocolate Syrup to finish.
  6. Cover and freeze 3 hours or until firm.
  7. Cut with serrated knife. (If really frozen, run knife under hot tap water first.)
http://justalittlebs.com/2013/07/05/ice-cream-sandwich-cake/

It looked super impressive, tasted unbelievable, and was ridiculously easy.  Those are some of my favorite superlatives!!

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

 

Posted on July 5th, 2013 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

His Chair

He was quiet, firm, and resolute.

He was dedicated to my grandmother.

He welcomed my hugs.

And he let me sit in his chair.

His Chair

His Chair

I don’t have a plethora of memories when it comes to my grandfather.  We lived seven hours away from each other my whole life.  My family would park our car on the dangerously sloping street, peel ourselves out of the hot car, decide whether to bring the books and barbies inside or wait to retrieve them later, and then descend the concrete steps onto the front walk of my grandparents’ house.  As we nervously waited on their front porch, we would quickly be welcomed by my grandmother’s fierce hugs and both hands to the cheeks-kisses.  And we would hug my grandpa.  We would then enter the house where we would attempt to encapsulate months of our lives into a quick highlight reel of quips and anecdotes.

Perhaps Solid Gold or some shopping network channel would be on the television.  The adults would gravitate toward the dining room table for games of pinochle to be contended.  Someone would be there soon with buckets of fried chicken to be added to the smorgasbord already on the kitchen table.  We would vacillate between our books or barbies or chatting with grandparents until cousins (finally!) began to show up and we escaped to the front porch swing or cartwheeling around the yard as if we had seen each other only yesterday.

His Chair

His Chair

As a young girl I learned one lesson very early.  People did not sit in Grandpa’s chair.  It was the same for Grandma’s rocking chair, but that made sense because she was most often sitting in it.  Even when Grandpa was gone from the house, people only reluctantly took his chair in the often full-to-bursting tiny living room.  But one time…one time…

I was sitting in his chair when he came home.  Some cousin whispered almost panic-like, “Get out of Grandpa’s chair!”  And I started to, nervous that something cataclysmic was about to occur, when Grandpa every-so-slightly shrugged his shoulders, looked at me and said, “It’s okay.  You can sit there.”

Now, generally I don’t trust my memory one bit.  But like Dory from “Finding Nemo,” there are just some long-term memories that can be relied upon.  And this scene, while maybe not as dramatic or colorful as I’m writing it to be, definitely happened.  And it impacted me.

I didn’t know my grandpa very well.  He was not a big talker and I am not good at asking questions.  But I know he had a hard life.  And I know he had a hard time parenting my father.  And I know he was stubborn.  But I also remember how his physical body seemed to soften just a bit when we would give him a hug.  And I remember the look on his face on that day he let me sit on his chair.  And it was enough to know that I was loved.

I can’t help but think of my grandpa when I watch my dad with my kids.  They are a rambunctious, mischievous, slightly crazy lot but I know he loves them.

He lets them sit in his chair.

Posted on June 9th, 2013 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

Garden of Grief

 

Soon after and because of Kate’s death, we built this house in which we currently live.  When it came time to landscape,  I demanded a garden.  So in the front yard, around 3 existing trees, I created one and called it “Kate’s Garden.”  In this garden I planted the tree gifted to us by the girls’ preschool at the time, a beautiful big Linden tree.  I moved plants from the old house that were meaningful to me into the garden:  some daisies Kate had held in her hands and smelled, some peonies I had nurtured and loved, and some plants given to me by my family members.  I envisioned Kate’s Garden as a place for me to remember her, a place to nurture living things in lieu of my little girl, and a place of beauty.

Garden of Grief

Garden of Grief

The garden does bear beauty and fruit, but not in ways I may have originally imagined or intended;  it is indeed so much more.  And today, ironically while working in a different garden, it occurred to me that Kate’s Garden is very representative not just of Kate’s life and light, but of her death and my grief.  This thought overwhelmed me to such a degree that the shovel, gardening gloves, and weeds I was pulling are now laying, discarded, next to that garden as I sit here in my front porch rocking chair and record these thoughts.

The first and most overwhelming thought I had was that Kate’s Garden is BIG, as is her death and my grief.  I didn’t realize when I was creating this garden just how big it is just as I did not realize when I lost Kate that I would be losing her for the remainder of my life.  This is how my grief feels; it will never end.  Sometimes it is momentarily dormant (by choice or season), sometimes it is a dull ache, and sometimes it catches me so sharply I lose my breath.  But it is always there; it is a part of who I am.  It does not define me, but it has forever changed me.

Garden of Grief

Garden of Grief

 

Kate’s Garden is MESSY.  Oh my, what an understatement.  It will take me a month to put mulch on it, and by the time I finish, I will need to begin again with weeding.  Sometimes the flowers that create the most immense beauty cause the biggest mess.  There are times that all I can do is get my gas string trimmer to cut down the mess.  Grief is like this; a disheveled, jagged edge.  It cannot be defined in pristine, clinical terms because everyone’s mess is as unique as every garden.  The invasive weeds and poison ivy taunt me, daring me to give them control but I refuse.  I pull them out despite the rash and despite the certainty of their return because I refuse to give into the lies inherent in grief.  Lies of guilt, fear, and appropriateness.  I don’t think one ever “gets a handle” on grief; one learns to coexist.

And sometimes I choose other things over the mess.  I have other gardens that need tending, cultivating.  At times these are welcome diversions, and at times I long to return to the garden almost as an escape.  But grief isn’t an escape in its healthiest form.  The process can be cathartic for sure, but it not a place to dwell for long.  Actually, the time I spend nurturing other gardens often provides a different, generally better perspective on Kate’s Garden.  It is quite frequently the innocent, sometimes raw words of my children which offer the most unique places for growth and hope.

I would describe Kate’s Garden as PEACEFUL CHAOS.  I am laughing right now at how well this is currently being illustrated.  At the moment, I am typing this blog at my kitchen counter while listening to Taylor Swift insisting on “Trouble, trouble, trouble.”  There are two boys riding scooters while their 10 yr. old sister is on roller skates, creating “schoolwork” for them on the giant white board in the foyer.  They just had ice cream sandwiches for a “before-lunch” snack, and my 12 yr. old is off sulking because her part of the compromise was to watch Spongebob on the upstairs television.  There is an empty pizza box on the counter from last night’s dinner, alongside several Lego figures put on kitchen counter quarantine due to their owner chewing on them rather than playing with them.  Oh, and I just witnessed stuffed animals being pulled from the kitchen cabinets that house my coffee mugs.

Yep.

The same thing is happening right now in the garden.  The peace comes not from clean, well-kept surroundings or a quiet cricket symphony, but from the inherent joy that exists in the midst of all the crazy reality.  This is so true of grief.  It can emerge with the happiest of tears, or be absent at the most forlorn times.  If I look closely, I see the wild honeysuckle growing out of the middle of my butterfly bush and the thistle surrounding the peonies.  But upon further reflection all I notice are the big bursting berry-colored blooms and the little white butterflies gracefully flitting back and forth amidst the bedlam.

Garden of Grief

Garden of Grief

At church last night, the pastor said something that struck me so profoundly I wrote it down and now apply it here.  He said, “Privacy is not a good catalyst for growth.”  In sharing my experiences and thoughts on this little blog, I am applying this quote.  Kate’s life, death, and my grieving process are not things to be locked up in a special package residing only within my heart,  just as her Linden tree in my garden would surely wither and perish if not planted properly and allowed to be seen and experienced by the world.  The work of maintaining Kate’s garden actually nurtures my soul; the art of sharing the experience provides a place where growth and hope are sustained.

Garden of Grief

Garden of Grief

It is in acknowledging and allowing the grief that true beauty of life is realized and attained.

 

Posted on June 2nd, 2013 by LilBS  |  1 Comment »

If you give a mom a busy schedule…

If you give a mom five busy kids and a packed schedule, she will learn to rely on her car.

If she has an especially busy week coming up, the car’s steering will start acting suspicious.

She will not tell anyone, and pray fervently that it miraculously resolves itself.  And it will… for a week.

She will cleverly devise a plan to switch cars with her brother-in-law so he can take the car to his “people.”

The car will prove too mysterious to be figured out in one day.

She will take the car to a local mechanic.

The car will prove too mysterious to be figured out for less than $1000.

She will appeal to higher powers and her loving mom&dad will loan her their car.

She will delight in the sunroof and forget to close it, showering the inside of the pristine car with locust blossoms.

She will tell her children phrases like:  “We don’t eat in Grandma’s car.”

and:  “We don’t put our feet on Grandma’s car seats.”

and:  “No, you can’t stick your head out of Grandma’s sunroof.”

She will present the repair quote to her husband who will call his friend who “knows a guy.”

She and her husband will move the car from one mechanic to the other, and on the way home her husband’s car will stop working at a gas station.

They will walk home.

On the busiest day of the mom’s week, they will drive the grandma’s car to the preschool picnic.

The husband will then go to the first grade “Author’s Tea” at the local elementary school.

When the husband picks her up, he will be driving her car instead of Grandma’s.

She will learn that Grandma’s car got a flat tire on the way back to the picnic, close to the second mechanic where his friend “knows a guy.”

They will arrange a new tire with “the guy.”

Her husband will unsuccessfully attempt to jump his car’s now-dead battery with her car while she plays “bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish” in the backseat of her car with her doughnut-sugar-high children.

Her husband’s car will be towed to “the guy.”

Her car proves less mysterious to “the guy” who can fix it for half the price, yet the part is backordered and won’t be available for 2.5 weeks.

Her car is able to be driven in the meantime, but will be considered an upper arm workout every time she touches the steering wheel.

The mom will cry a little.

But then she will watch her boys playing in the sunny rain.

And she will know that somewhere, someone is seeing a rainbow.

And somewhere deep inside she knows that this, too, shall pass.

And she feels thankful for her family and friends…

And her very busy schedule.

(And the promise of a margarita.)

 

 

Posted on May 23rd, 2013 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

Homemade Deodorant

I always test any diy products I blog about on here.  This one received the longest test yet – almost 2 years.  I love this deodorant.  It’s super easy to make and so freakin’ cheap!  It smells good and is not going to give me cancer.  (*bonus*)  I decided to try this almost 2 years ago because I was so tired of buying expensive deodorant!

Like anything, there are pros and cons to this deodorant.

Pros:

  • inexpensive
  • easy
  • smells good
  • healthy

Possible Cons (depending on your preferences):

  • NOT an antiperspirant (so you will still sweat)
  • application is with fingers not a deodorant stick
  • gets a little “melty” in high heat
  • there are concerns about the cornstarch causing yeast infections – I have never had a problem.

 

Here is the original link where I found the ingredients:

http://howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-to-make-your-own-deodorant.html

After reading the ingredients and being unsuccessful in my attempts to find Arrowroot powder in a “normal” grocery store, I decided to take the original poster’s advice and use cornstarch.

Here is my recipe:

Homemade Deodorant

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • 4 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 10 drops essential oil (I use lavender.)

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Add coconut oil and essential oil.
  3. (Coconut oil may be slightly melted to promote mixing, if necessary.)
  4. Place in airtight container.
  5. To use: Put a little on your fingers, and let it “melt” into your armpits. Adjust as necessary. I put it on once per day and it lasts.
http://justalittlebs.com/2013/05/15/homemade-deodorant/

Now because this is not an antiperspirant and you will still sweat, you will have some discoloration in your clothing (armpit areas).  This will not be the yellow discoloration caused by many antiperspirants!  This is from sweat, not the deodorant itself!  If you need a way to get rid of those stains, check out my favorite stain pre-treater!  I use this and it works awesomely!

http://justalittlebs.com/2011/12/01/homemade-stain-treater/

I truly love this deodorant!  It lasts for roughly 5 months so it is an awesome money-saver and totally healthy!  Plus I don’t have to remember to buy it every two weeks at the grocery store which is such a plus for me since I can’t even remember what day of the week it is.

Here’s to smelling yummy for only pennies!

 

 

Posted on May 15th, 2013 by LilBS  |  No Comments »

In memoriam…

I have been thinking of my friend Linda quite a bit recently.  To say only that I taught at the same high school with Linda would do a disservice to our relationship.  I did teach with her, but I also prayed with her, cried with her, laughed with her, traveled with her, admired her, and grieved her…I grieve her still.

Linda died in November, 2008.  She had the same kidney cancer my husband had been diagnosed with, but they found hers after it had spread into her body and beyond remedy.

I don’t claim that Linda and I were the best of friends.  She was closer to my mother’s age than mine, but it never really mattered.  She was such a young spirit, full of spunk and sass.  She and I had the honor and blessing to attend our school’s Kairos retreat with many different groups of seniors over several years.  In sharing Kairos ~ or “God’s time” ~ with each other, we had time to share beyond our Math or Religion curriculum, beyond our school assemblies or student dramas; we shared matters of substance.

We shared about our hopes for the future, our relationships with our husbands, our questions regarding spirituality, and of course, the minutia of life:  board games, beer, poker, jokes, and lots and lots of good laughs.  I loved her.  I loved the way she talked about her husband Jim and her kids.  I loved her honesty and frankness.  I loved her determination to live life in that moment and not to wait until it was more convenient.

For some reason tonight, I was looking up some old Catholic cd’s one of my other friends introduced me to a long time ago.  As I found “Simple Gifts” and  “Instruments of Peace” on Spotify, I was immediately transported in my mind back to a road trip I took with three lovely ladies to visit another one of our good friends.  What a fun trip!  Linda was there, Sue (owner of these cd’s), and my good friend Gina.  We were traveling to visit our friend Ellen, another teacher with whom we had bonded over Kairos who was now teaching in New Jersey.

There are several moments on that journey that stand out to me as I reflect upon it tonight.  I remember talking about not expecting our husbands to fulfill us, but looking to God for that instead.  What did I know?!  I had been married for such a short time and I was spouting off about something I knew very little about, really.  But these women gave me such grace.  I didn’t know at that moment how important that lesson would one day be for me as well.  I also remember talking about being a vessel for God.  This phrase has resurfaced many times in sharing my experience of losing Kate.  The excursion was also a major crossroads as I would come home from that trip, take a pregnancy test, and turn a very important corner in my life’s journey.

Linda’s husband gifted me a pair of her earrings.  They are beautiful gold butterflies.  My first instinct was to tuck them in a special box only to be pulled out for sacred, special occasions.  But then I had to check myself.  If I learned one thing from Linda, it was that every moment of our lives is sacred.  Chatting with neighbors, playing games, dancing at weddings, changing diapers ~ there is something sacred about every moment we experience as long as we acknowledge it as such.  Life is not something to tuck away in a box, even a beautiful one, hoping for the perfect moment to enjoy it.

Life is about grabbing on with both hands, and taking it for the wild ride it is.  It’s about finding the sacred in washing the dishes, kissing a boo-boo, reprimanding (while trying not to laugh at) the 7 yr. old for the wedgie he just gave his 5 yr. old brother.  It’s about a purple iris broken in the rainstorm now adorning the kitchen counter in a Mason jar.  It’s about weeding those damn dandelions and thistles even though you just weeded them yesterday, or maybe just ignoring them after all.  It’s about wearing gold butterfly earrings to watch a soccer game or for a day at the park.

Even life’s ordinary moments are sacred; perhaps, especially those.

And so I offer my starfish, Linda.  I hope this humble blog serves as a vessel for God’s love.  I hope in some small way to honor your life by sharing a bit of mine.  If it helps even one, it will be worth it.  In the midst of writing this and remembering you, I shared a beer with my neighbor, admired the beautiful lush overgrown lawn after an afternoon rain, baked brownies and ate them with my children, cleaned up after my family, refereed several arguments, scratched my son’s back, carried my baby to his bed, laughed with a friend about a fake mustache… familiar, humdrum  yet hallowed moments.

I miss you, friend.

 

 

Posted on May 11th, 2013 by LilBS  |  4 Comments »