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“Expect the unexpected.” What a cliche, but also what a universal truth.  Very similar to “The only constant is change.”

You see, my beloved husband started a great new job at the start of the new year, which he loved, working with close friends. Then, the firm closed about 4 months ago.  Suddenly, my beloved stayed home with me.  The first week we slept in, and I encouraged him to rest and relax.  But, the reality of today’s job market crept in.  If you don’t get a job quickly, you may never get another one at all.  We set up our dining room as his command central, complete with office supplies and our laptop, and he spent his days (including weekends) seeking out opportunities and diligently networking.

Searching!

What was my role in all this?  Clearly I had to change my own routine and responsibilities as well.  We could have remained in our initial emotional states of fear and uncertainty, but I decided to take my own advice and create the atmosphere in our home I wanted for us both: supportive, loving, nourishing, and positive.  Instead of denying or ignoring our situation, I set about trying to make the most of it and to use it to strengthen the bonds between us by making myself the best helpmate possible.

Hang in there.

Times of crises can rip apart relationships if we let them.  We can isolate ourselves by building walls of self protection, but these same walls keep others out and enclose us in our own pain and hopelessness.

Do not be afraid. I am with you.

In a meditation entitled “Embracing the Ebb,” the great self-help author, Melody Beattie, tells the story of a vicious, miserably suffering queen in a mythical kingdom:

“Surely there must be one of you who knows the source of my suffering,” the queen cried in despair. But her pathetic wail was greeted only with all awkward silence, for all were wary of her wrath.  Finally, the royal gardener was moved by compassion for the poor woman and slowly approached her throne.

“Come into the garden, Majesty, beyond the walls of your self imprisonment, and I will disclose your dilemma.”  The queen was so desperate, she did as she was bid.  She went down to the garden for the first time in many weeks, she noticed that the bright, vivid colors of summer had faded and the garden seemed bare. But it was not, she saw, wholly bereft of beauty, for it was regal in autumn’s brilliant hues of crimson and gold. The air was refreshingly cool and crisp, and the sky, pure blue.  “Speak, Gardener,” the queen ordered, “but choose your words carefully, for I seek the truth.”

“Majesty, it is not your body or your mind that is ailing.  It is your soul that is in need of healing.  For while you are a mighty and powerful queen, you are not Divine.  You are suffering from a human condition that afflicts all of us.  Earthly souls ebb and flow in sorrow and joy according to the seasons of emotion, just as the seasons of the natural world moves through the cycle of life, death, and a rebirth.  These are the days to be grateful for the harvest of the heart, however humble it may be, and to prepare for the coming of the year’s closure.  Even now, this season of daylight diminishes and the time of darkness increases.  But the true Light is never extinguished in the natural world, and it is the same in your soul.  Embrace the ebb, my beloved queen, and do not fear the darkness.  For as night follows day, the light will return and you will know contented hours once again.  Of this I am sure.”

The unhappy Queen considered this wisdom thoughtfully and asked the Gardener how he possessed the secret knowledge of inner peace during the seasons of emotion.  The Gardner led her to a brass sundial.  It read: “This too, shall pass.” – Melody Beattie

Enjoying the flowering clover.

Have faith.  It’s a simple, short message to receive, but much harder to live out.  You see, as Christians, God calls us to walk in faith.  We should turn our life and our wills over to the power of God, as the Twelve Steps call us to do.  That’s a daily choice, and sometimes, a choice that I have had to make every few minutes.  Why is it so difficult to have faith?  Melody Beattie describes the sources of my struggles in a meditation called “Letting Go of Limiting Illusions,”

For some of us the thought of trusting a power outside ourselves to help make our dreams come true is definitely a threatening concept, especially if we are used to being in control – or rather, used to the illusion of being in control.

Many more of us go through life trapped by another illusion: that an uncaring, capricious fate determines our destiny.  Shellshocked from some of the acutely miserable things that life throws our way, we are deeply afraid to believe that a loving, generous Creative Force supports our endeavors. We are afraid to trust that the same Spirit that created the Universe probably knows how to help us write for the grant, get the promotion, go back to school, start our new business, find a new job. Like mirrors in a carnival funhouse that distort appearances, what we see with our eyes is not real.  And we buy into the illusion that external events possess the ultimate power to deny our dreams.

And we wonder why we’re so unhappy?  – Melody Beattie

The winds of Fate (or Poseidon)

So what if we decided to live, not in fear, but in faith?  And how could we lift each others’ spirits while nurturing our own?  Prayer.  Pray unceasingly, we are told.  So we did.  We prayed together each morning, and we prayed together each night. I prayed while doing dishes at the sink. I prayed while driving in the car.  My husband asked me to type out small prayer cards for him to carry in his wallet, to use while riding on the train.

To inspire us I checked Joel Osteen’s book, This Is Your Time, out of the library (which I mentioned in a prior post).   We read a few pages aloud nearly everyday.  His messages of hope and his encouragement strengthened us both.  So, I renewed that book every two weeks until they wouldn’t let me anymore!

Here are the two mantras of Pastor Joel’s that we posted on the walls of Command Central (in cheerfully colored, large letters):

I will not just survive.

I will thrive.

I will prosper in spite of this difficulty. – Pastor Joel

God, my life is in your hands.

I know You’re guiding and directing my steps and

I’m not expecting defeat.

I’m not expecting failure.

I’m expecting to have a blessed year.

I’m expecting to go over

and not under.

I’m expecting You to

prosper me in the desert. – Pastor Joel

Watch over me as I head into hard times…

We made a decision to put ourselves into the hands of God and to allow His will to be done in our lives.  We raised our sights.  We raised our expectations.  We raised our spirits.

Why not?  Why live in fear and misery when we can choose to love life instead?  By loving God, we were able to love our life and to love each other, instead of the sniping and quarreling that could have occurred. Many women assumed having my husband at home drove me crazy, but the opposite came true.  We enjoyed our time together; we are newlyweds, after all.  A hot breakfast together, a working lunch, a lovely dinner, then a movie or a great TV show snuggled together on the couch each night. We discovered the local park and took walks in the sunshine some afternoons.  What could be better? And, what is more attractive to a potential employer than an optimistic, happy, energy- filled job candidate?

Enjoying the moment

Then, my beloved hubby got a new job.  The best job he has had so far.  God prospered us in the desert.  Our daughter asked in shock, “How did you get a job so fast when other people look for years?”  To which I replied, “Prayer.  We prayed hard!”

Making a wish + sending up a prayer! (Hubby + Juanie)

Then we celebrated!  Not only had my beloved gotten a new job, his cousin, Juanie landed one, too.

Champagne and Roses

We had her over for dinner, which I whipped up with specialty foods I had squirreled away for a special celebration someday.  When the news arrived, I was prepared!Our spring table setting

I made arugula salad with moonblush tomatoes, mint, and goat cheese from Nigella Express cookbook. (I’ll link you to the recipe for the Moonblush Tomatoes on her website here.

This salad looks beautiful as well as tasting refreshingly light, tart, and creamy all at the same time. 

While we were chatting over the counter one day, the guys behind the counter at our gourmet Italian market, A &S Fine Foods, sold me the ingredients and gave me the recipe for Papardelle with White Truffle Sauce.  (The recipe follows below.) I served the pasta with my old standby of Chicken Breast Fillet in Herbs de Provence. I quickly sauteed spinach with garlic in olive oil, then threw in some pine nuts and raisins to make it special.Then, served a prefab Tiramisu from A&S, along with Italian coffee.

After dinner coffee.

Juanie brought a magnum of champagne, which we drank with each course.  Congratulations again to Hubby and Juanie!


White Truffle Pasta

Ingredients

200 ml panna du cucina (by Latte Milano)

250g (or 8.8oz or half a lb) papardelle

2 cloves garlic (Peeled and smashed or chopped)

½ stick of butter

2 Tbsp sherry

Salt (to taste)

1 jar (90g) Sala con 6% Tartufi Bianchi (White Truffle Sauce by Coccia Tartufi)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese (to taste)

Directions

  1. Put the papardelle pasta on to boil, according to package directions.  (Mine was made by Cipriani, the people of Harry’s Bar in Venice, but I have use some imported from Italy as well for this dish).
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed large frying pan.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté gently over a medium flame for a few minutes to release the flavor into the butter.  (Do not let the garlic brown.)
  4. Add in the entire jar of white truffle sauce and the sherry and mix well with a whisk.
  5. Take a small ladle full of the hot pasta water, and pour it into your large serving bowl for the dish.  (This warms the serving bowl and puts a little starch in the dish to help the sauce adhere to the pasta and give it a silky texture.)
  6. Pour out the pasta and drain (at the appropriate time), and put it directly into the frying pan with your sauce. (Don’t worry if the sauce is ready before the pasta. Just keep it warm over a very low flame or turn it off for a few minutes. It shouldn’t separate.)
  7. Mix the two until the pasta is well coated and warmed through.  Place in your serving bowl and toss a little more. Then serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly cracked pepper at the table.

(Both the ground hogs and the rabbits in our yard have given birth, so I took these pictures of the babies as they ran around outside.)

May God bless you as abundantly as He has blessed us!

Christina

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