Family Dinner

I love the times when our family gets together. I wrote a poem some weeks ago about that very subject, and this evening brought it to mind.

Today was the first day for teachers to report back to school. A long day for me and my daughter, Rachel. A long day for my husband in his role with school technology.

The first day back is always tiring. The alarm goes off so early. And add to that our current health concerns with Covid-19, the stress levels are high.

Enter my brother-in-law, Martin. He is in town for a few days, doing some work around my mother-in-law’s house. And he offered to make dinner for the whole family.

Dinner on this first day of reporting back to school. And not just any dinner-ribeye steaks, asparagus, salad, and grilled peaches. What a treat!

We sat around the table laughing, enjoying the company. We felt loved. Refilled so that we can pass on that love. What a special place to be. ❤

At the Table

Family and friends
On either side
Faces lighting up the room
Enjoying a favorite meal
A warm cup of coffee
Creating new memories
While recalling old ones
What about a stranger?
A favorite meal
Not yet known
No memories to share
Only ones to create
Taking a chance
Caring enough to ask
About a favorite meal
Offer a warm cup of coffee
A timeless lesson-
The people at the table
Matter more than
What is being served-
And before anything else,
Love must be given
A seat at the table

A Little Warmth

Our Sunday evening Chinese take-out was more yummy than usual. Although the day started on the dreary side, the sun came out this afternoon. Only a few clouds and the early evening temperature was perfect.

So, what does that have to do with the take-out? Well, we decided to eat dinner outside on the deck. The fresh air felt so good. And while we ate, my feet were soaking up the sunshine. The combination helped ease the tensions of the day.

Once we were done eating, my family went back inside. I decided to linger awhile. Moving to another chair, I turned directly toward the sun. Head back, eyes closed, sweet warmth covered my face.

Those few moments alone in the sun were just what I needed. Soon, the sunshine was hidden by the clouds, so I went inside. My daughter asked if I’d like to go for a walk. Off we went.

As we walked through the neighborhood, we noticed birds singing. Ducks were swimming in a pond, and there was even a turtle sticking its head out of the water. There was a family playing frisbee. Neighbors waved from their front porches.

We rounded a corner, and guess what I felt on my face once again? That warm sunshine. And now it was beginning to set. Not only providing warmth but also beauty.

Back home, it was time for reflection. These are unsettling days. Keeping our distance, missing my friends, missing my co-workers and students. Wanting answers to questions. Wondering how long this will last. And on and on and on.

Sometimes, the simplest things make the biggest difference. Take-out on the deck. Sunshine on my face. A walk with my daughter. Food, sun, and family-It is amazing the power of a little warmth.

Oh, I almost forgot. And music-music helps, too. 😉

Fire and Rain

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way
James Taylor

Ripple Effect

Our district, Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK, currently has four sites working daily to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner for children in our community. In one week, over 70,000 meals were distributed. Today marks the end of week four.

It takes a massive amount of work for this to happen. There are so many people behind the scenes planning, organizing, preparing for this need. And many other volunteers step in to help with distribution.

Whether they realize it or not, those working in the background are creating ripples. Not just a pebble tossed into a pond, more like a boulder lobbed from the shore. All of them working together to create a lasting, powerful ripple effect.

Just imagine. A family drives through the line. They receive enough food to feed their children for that day. And they can do the same thing the next day. Actually, every day, Monday through Friday.

The parents and children realize how much their school community cares for them. They share their experience with friends and extended family. A tiny glimmer of hope in an unsettling time.

No, this is not the answer to all of the problems families are currently facing. Many are dealing with job loss, not to mention isolation. But not having enough food? I cannot imagine the fear that brings.

I hope it is these kinds of things we will remember when this time has passed. People recognizing a need and doing whatever it takes to fill that need. People working tirelessly with no thought of their own recognition.

I hope these difficult times remind us to stop and look around. To see acts of kindness. And to recognize each as a ripple with the ability to become a wave.

A wave of compassion that has the power to wash over us all.

A ripple effect with endless possibilities for positively impacting the future.

Chips Anyone?

When a problem occurs with technology, it is often user error. That was definitely the case for me this week. And though the result can be frustrating, this time it was kind of funny.

I love Sam’s Club app. Useful technology designed to make shopping quick and easy. Once the desired item is located, I scan the price with my phone. I can even check out and pay on my phone. No standing in lines.

I made a quick stop there the other day. My mother-in-law asked if I would pick up a specific bag of chips. We had eaten these quinoa and chia chips at a wedding shower for Robert and Erin back in January. They were so good!

Since I had already done our regular grocery shopping, the chips were my only reason for this stop. Certainly not a typical trip to Sam’s, but this is the only place I can find these chips.

Because they are so good, I decided to get a bag for myself. I scanned the first bag, and then entered a quantity of two. All done shopping, right? Maybe not.

I spotted the boxes of Veggie Straws. We like those, too. So, I scanned the box, clicked check out, and pay. All done.

And then I noticed the total. Something wasn’t right, but I had already hit pay. A quick review of my purchase showed a total of three bags of chips, but no Veggie Straws. Apparently, I had accidentally scanned the chips again.

There was only one thing to do. Put back the Veggie Straws, grab another bag of chips, and leave.

Walking past all the people in line with full carts, I couldn’t help wonder if they noticed the crazy lady carrying three bags of quinoa and chia chips.

Anyone need a bag of chips? They come highly recommended! 😉

What’s Cooking?

Say, hey, good lookin’
Whatcha got cookin’?
How’s about cookin’ somethin’ up with me?

Hey, sweet baby
Don’t you think maybe
We could find us a brand-new recipe?

-Hank Williams-

Yes, I know this song has little if anything to do with food. While recently thinking about food/cooking, however, my thoughts turned to people. And then to this song. Maybe not logical, but that’s my musician brain for you.

What is it about this act of cooking which draws us closer to each other? As I considered this question, my memories were clear. My friend Donna McDonald and her peanut butter pie. My friend Cindy Wright and her frozen strawberry dessert. The Seifert family and their homemade pizza.

The list could go on and on. Specific people, specific foods, and specific occasions. All of these foods were delicious, but what I remember most is the people and the reasons behind their cooking-family dinners, baby showers, hospital stays. Being on the receiving end of these gifts always made me feel loved.

I’ve also been on the opposite end of this circumstance. Cooking a family birthday dinner or baking cookies for a friend. Knowing that others are enjoying my creation always makes me happy.

This week I experienced both sides of this culinary phenomenon. Monday, I baked my famous chocolate chip cookies. Student musicians in our all-school musical were the recipients at our Tuesday rehearsal. They were surprised and grateful. And they ate all the cookies. 😉

I chose Tuesday for this treat because it was our first “late” day. This almost four-hour rehearsal followed a full day of teaching elementary music. Even with some extra caffeine and a cookie, the long day left me exhausted.

Dragging myself into the house, I immediately smelled something yummy. “Are you hungry?” My husband had made a tasty meal. He fixed me a plate. I sat down to eat and unwind.

No, this wasn’t a birthday dinner or special event. It was just a regular old Tuesday night. A late work night for me. A night he knew I needed a good meal. A meal that made me feel loved.

All of these situations are connected by one element, and it isn’t food. It is time. Time is precious and cooking takes time. When someone is willing to give their own time in this way, they’re showing how much they care.

If you find yourself on the receiving end there is only one thing to say. “What’s cooking?” Followed by a big, huge, “Thank you!”