A Mac N Cheesy Tradition

Traditions are so important. They ground us, they bring comfort during turbulent times, they give us a sense of who we are and that we belong. I would like to share something special that happened during our son Josh and his beautiful wife Naomi’s visit this past week. I wanted to do something special with Naomi that honored our family’s traditions and also pass one down to her. I reached out to my sister Janet to make sure I got the recipe right (Yes, Sis – I used Panko!) and bought the ingredients for making the macaroni and cheese that my mom used to make. She didn’t make it very often and so we were all very excited when she did. I remember the unique bread crumb crust on the top that everybody loved.

So this week Naomi and I made Mom’s macaroni and cheese together. It was a very special time as we chatted and together decided how much of what to put in it, since we didn’t use any measuring cups. Naomi’s grandmother had also shared a macaroni and cheese recipe for her to treasure. Naomi now has a recipe from my Mom that she may not follow exactly, but is something for her to build off of (along with her grandma’s recipe) that will carry a part of both of our families into the new family that she and Josh are creating together – and that is really cool!

I thank God for the gift of my daughter-in-love Naomi and I’m so blessed by the times that we get to spend together.

If you don’t have a family tradition to pass down, that’s okay because you can start creating your own right now. And it doesn’t even have to be family that you pass it to. The important thing about tradition is the love behind it and that each of us can create our own as an expression of that love and give it to anyone. It’s also good to remember that blessings are meant to flow in both directions. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to the German Pancakes Naomi makes for us whenever we get together for an extended visit – Yum!!

 
For those of you who are interested, I am including the macaroni and cheese recipe. If you choose to use it – feel free to tweak it and make it your own. And I know my Mom will be smiling from Heaven because a tradition that she began in our family is being continued by others.

Leah Venetucci’s Mac N Cheese

16 oz. large elbow macaroni

Approximately 1 cup of milk

Kraft Deluxe American Cheese (12 Slices)

Butter

Olive Oil

Breadcrumbs (You can use plain or Panko)

9 X 12 Glass Baking Pan

Lots of love

Cook the elbow macaroni as you normally would – boiling – straining – and adding a dollop of olive oil to prevent the macaroni from sticking together. Now would be a good time to start preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Place pats of butter on the bottom of the baking pan. You can also mix some butter in with the macaroni, although we settled for just the olive oil we had already added earlier. Layer half of macaroni into pan. Pour approximately half a cup of milk over macaroni. Layer cheese slices on top of macaroni. (For a richer recipe you can add additional pats of butter on the cheese – being a bit health conscious, we chose not to do that this time and really didn’t miss it).

Repeat with another layer of macaroni and add some more milk (this is now individual preference as to how you like the final texture to turn out – more milky or less milky…) and layer cheeses slices on top of macaroni.

Now the fun part – shake the container of breadcrumbs so that they cover the top layer of cheese. You can experiment with how thick a layer you like, but it doesn’t take much to achieve the desired affect of a crispy, tasty top.

Bake for about 30 minutes (on top rack is fine) until golden brown. Timing is not critical but if you see the macaroni is getting crisp and you don’t want to overcook it – you can also broil it for a few minutes (less than 5) to achieve the color of the crust you see in the pictures. If you choose to do this, the top will cook very quickly, so you will want to monitor it closely.

It is now ready to enjoy and of course refrigerate leftovers promptly. We also have a family tradition of praying over our meals and we often end our prayer in a beautiful way – “Please bless this food and the hands that prepared it.” I think we’ll start including, “and thank you for the tradition of love behind it.” Seems like a good idea, don’t you think?

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree – Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today my Mom is celebrating her 98th birthday in Heaven, as we remember her special day with a mixture of joy and sadness here on Earth. I was looking in the mirror this morning, and I saw my Mom’s features in my own face – the way her face would crinkle with lines etched by life’s trials complemented by the wrinkles engraved from a lifetime of smiles. How her eyes would squint a bit when she smiled – one more than the other and with a twinkle in her eyes. I felt joy shoving my grief back into its corner. I am my Mom’s legacy!

Funny thing about the aging process. I am finding this season of life has challenges my younger version could not begin to fathom, but also blessings that I am very grateful for. I remember Mom’s jovial disclosure of her age on every birthday – “I’m 29!” I have chosen to keep my hard-earned wisdom highlights visible, whereas she had chosen to keep her red hair for several decades before letting go of her fiery crown. Either way, she was, and is, beautiful.

Mom had a hearty laugh and a great sense of humor. She lit up any room she was in and she took much joy in music. I love this video of Mom singing while Phil and I dance in our kitchen after coming home from a Christmas eve service.

When I look back on the impact she had on my life and her steadfast love, I feel so grateful that God gave her to me to be my Mom. Cheerleader, teacher, confidante, nurturer, she was always there with a smile, a hug, and a word of wisdom. She was also there through every bump I experienced, even when they were the results of my own poor decisions.

Mom had a strong influence in my life. She would often say: “You have to have trust and faith,” “Don’t worry twice,” “Take some honey,” “Think happy thoughts,” and always in times of trouble – “It’s not a forever thing,” and “Lord, grant me the serenity…” So when asked to speak at a ladies ministry event at Living Word Global Church last year – Mom came to mind and I knew it was a great opportunity to share with others the wisdom my Mom had garnered throughout her life. She leaves a beautiful legacy in all of the lives she has touched, which I was able to share in the video below:

Our time on Earth is short, and while we think we will have the opportunity to be with our loved ones, the truth is, the day the Lord calls them home will always be sooner then what we would want, even if we know that day is coming. Romans 14:8, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” gives me much comfort – but I do miss her daily.

Don’t neglect time with your loved ones – because tomorrow is not promised to any of us. The cherished memories of our many times together provide comfort until we are reunited again in Heaven. I also hope you can find time to listen to Mom’s wisdom – her words have carried me through some difficult times and I think they will bless you, too. And when you are going through those hard times, tell yourself an important truth that I know my Mom would tell you: “It’s not a forever thing.” You will get out the other side to a place of blessing. It might take awhile – but stay strong and hold onto your faith. You will get there. And when you do that, I am quite certain my Mom will be smiling down from Heaven.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Love and miss you so much!!

A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven

Today is Palm Sunday – the beginning of Holy Week recognized by those, like me, who are followers of Jesus Christ. As excited as we all get about Christmas (the birth of our Savior!!) it runs second to the most exciting holiday of all in the Christian calendar. In the secular world it is known as Easter Sunday but to understand the meaning of Easter in all its glory – Christians refer to it as Resurrection Day – the day that Jesus conquered death after bearing incredible torture on our behalf – and all of this driven by His love for us. The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Easter commemorates God raising Jesus from the dead. Palm Sunday is the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem – knowing what was ahead, yet still choosing to do so.

We have all been living in tremendous tension for the past two years, as the world remains in a constant state of chaos and uncertainty and there seems to be no end in sight. This plaque hangs in our kitchen, bringing comfort even when the unfathomable happens. It reminds me of God’s purpose through His Son Jesus Christ for humanity: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We have a hope that is enduring, a Lord who loves us, and a purpose ordained by Him for our time on earth. Holy Week is a special reminder that God’s love for us is relentless, incomprehensible, sacrificial, and unconditional. Perfect and without sin, yet willing to die for us – that is the amazing love that God has for us.

You may hear a Christian exclaim, “He is Risen!!” on Easter Sunday – we just can’t contain our excitement. It really is an emotional time of gratitude for us and we are overflowing with joy as we contemplate the sacrifice of our Lord and how He overcame death so that we can spend eternity with Him. The usual response is just as enthusiastic: “He is Risen, Indeed!!”

What we find so amazing is that God is faithful even when we aren’t. The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He doesn’t wait for us to clean up our acts – He loves us exactly where we are at, with a fierce love that knows no bounds. The baby born in the manger on Christmas Day is God’s greatest expression of love – His provision to deliver us from our sins so that we can spend eternity with him. He tells us in John 16:33, “‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'”

I take tremendous comfort in this. My last blog post was titled “What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do.” It was helpful to be sure. But yesterday after a stressful week of having surgery, a minor reaction during recovery, and starting a new position at work, I found myself in need of more. I needed to be still. I needed Jesus. So I found myself crying out yet again, and again, Jesus met me at my point of need.

As we begin our journey towards Easter Sunday, and we focus on the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, it is good to remember to not only keep Jesus in Easter, but to also invite Him into our lives throughout the year. Jesus came down from heaven to save us from our sins. When we call out to Him, not only do we receive eternal salvation, we receive His peace on earth. Putting Christ in the center of our lives changes everything. Gaining the eternal perspective of heaven helps us walk in this world with all of its pain and suffering, and enables us to do so with joy. The joy we have in Christ overflows into our relationships and our daily lives, touching others even as it touches us.

God’s love for us is beautiful, extravagant, and unforgettable. Each one of us has a purpose under heaven and we are each given a season to live out that purpose. Our ultimate purpose is to love God and to love others. That looks different for each one of us because we are all unique, but the end result is the same: In whatever we do, let us honor God and seek to please Him, and love one another in both our words and actions. Life here on earth is both precious and short – Let’s remember to do that each and every day ❤️

If you would like to learn more about Jesus – I will be glad to send you a copy of an Advent Devotional I wrote (available on Amazon) for free. While it is directed towards the Christmas season it can be read any time of year and will give you a better understanding of who Jesus is and why Christians get so excited about Easter 🙂 Just message me your email address and I will gift you a free Kindle version. I promise not to contact you or use your email address for any other purpose. May you enjoy a blessed Easter season!

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do…

Saturday was weird. I worked all week and usually I look forward to Saturdays as a day to have an opportunity to sleep a little longer, be a little bit more leisurely, and reach out to family or friends I haven’t chatted with lately. While the week is filled not only with my day job, but evenings working on promoting Alien Neighbors, I also have lots of other irons in the fire – writing projects I am excited about, learning how to play my ukulele, and riding my bicycle on the greenbelt where we live. Saturdays are usually a welcome respite to do these things. But this Saturday, well…it seemed like the walls were pressing in.

I remember waking up and starting to pray for all of the people I know that are grieving a recent loss, asking God to comfort them. Many of the people on the list were struck down by covid-19, all of them gone too soon. I think what finally got to me was the length of the list. I stopped before I got through them all and cried out, “Why, so many, Lord? It’s too much to bear.” My thoughts turned to Ukraine and the unjust war being waged on that beautiful country. The image of a pianist playing one last song on her piano in her home before leaving it behind to become a refugee haunts me. The world has been chaotic for so long.

The day seemed unbearable. Peace was elusive.

I never did get my peace that day. But when I woke up Sunday, I made a conscious decision. I needed to do something different. It’s okay to have the occasional bad day (and not feel guilty about it) but not to stay there. My choices were fairly limited given we are still somewhat restricted (another frustration being the pandemic is not yet over, no matter how much we would all like it to be). I didn’t sleep in but rather, got up to close to my normal work day rise time. We turned on our favorite local church online service (we have not made the leap to in-person services yet) and received the blessing of being with our church family, worshipping God, and receiving an inspiring Word delivered by our pastor. But now what?

Even after church it felt fairly easy and a little bit tempting to allow myself to slip into the same funk that I was in on Saturday, but I refused. So what could I do to choose joy instead of despair? This was very uncomfortable for me. Usually I don’t feel the pangs of depression. Sadness, yes – I am grieving for my sister and for dear friends who have gone to heaven this past year. I miss them!! But I can usually turn my thoughts to the happy memories I have of them and not stay sad too long – there is so much to be done and I know they wouldn’t want me to over-extend my grief to a point that it interferes with daily life. I didn’t know what to do…

So I did something different. Usually I am stuck inside at my computer. Usually we eat inside. Usually I have an agenda that I follow so that I can get done what I need to. I have a post-it-note list of “to-do’s” for the day. But instead – I moved my day outside into our backyard. I cleaned off our patio table and set my computer up on it. I stayed outside ALL day. We ate outside. I read my book outside. I worked on my latest novel outside. And in between, I played ping pong with my husband, played soccer with my dog, and threw a frisbee. I grabbed my ukulele and practiced the chords I have been trying to learn. I laughed. I read the scriptures in our prayer garden. I watched the birds. I sang spontaneously. I reflected on how blessed we are. I didn’t finish my post-it-note list, but I found peace.

Sometimes peace is elusive. The trials of this world can be very hard to bear. If you find yourself pressed down, perhaps it’s time to do something different. Even a little different, like hanging out in your backyard (or a park if you don’t have a backyard). Or grab a ukulele and play a few chords…

My wish for you is to allow yourself to be human and grieve when your heart hurts – but don’t stay there too long. There is still much beauty around us, even in despair. God is still working on our behalf – even when it is hard to see, and He grieves with us. One last image comes to mind as I write this. A picture of light even in the darkness – playful guards and children’s laughter as they spread joy even in desperate circumstances. There is always light and it will overcome. Make sure to turn the volume on and enjoy the video below:

https://fb.watch/bWfrRJ2l4_/

Carrollton League of Writers Three Year Anniversary Celebration

I have made it a tradition to write about each year as part of our anniversary celebration. In preparation, I went to last year’s anniversary blog post:

We are living in extraordinary times. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. But while that is certainly true, living through a pandemic is new for most of us. It has been a challenging time as we receive changing information daily and must navigate our relationships, how we conduct business, make tough decisions regarding our children’s education, and what we should or shouldn’t do based on something we can’t even see. I know for myself, I sometimes wake up and everything feels so surreal – I never imagined living through this type of situation.

Those words really startled me and caused me to reflect on where we were then, and where we are now. It doesn’t seem like there’s much difference and it can be really easy to allow ourselves to get caught up in that fact.

I wish I could do like I did for our One Year celebration and just share about all of the wonderful different things that we were able to participate in and the very cool things that we did for our community. But the fact is, the world just didn’t allow us to do that for the second year in a row and that’s hard. So what can we do? How can we proceed? Well, Carrollton League of Writers already answered that question and in a very powerful way. We have chosen to be a family and to love, support, and respect each member of our family.

It hasn’t always been easy. Since I took on a full-time job and had shoulder surgery, the leadership I have been able to provide in the past has declined. But the Carrollton League of Writers board met the challenge and kept things going. I think we can be very proud and grateful that in a time where many writers groups have been unable to keep meeting, the foundation that was laid by a group of people who have decided to be invested in one another three years ago has stood firm – and that is truly a wonderful thing to have come out of this pandemic.

I have had occasion to talk to various members of our group and what is really amazing is that we all come from different places, backgrounds, and beliefs, yet we are dedicated to respecting each other and even more, loving and encouraging one another in the most difficult of circumstances. So, what should we celebrate when we celebrate our 3rd anniversary? Sure, we managed to do some good things. We worked really hard at putting on a virtual writers retreat to take the place of our usual annual retreat at Lake Texoma. Obviously, it didn’t have the same vibe, but it accomplished something. It said that we will not go gentle into that good night. The board met several times and created an ever-evolving plan of how we should conduct our meetings to meet the needs of our group.

3 Year Anniversary Meeting

Carrollton League of Writers may have to respond to external circumstances that affect how we move forward, but none of that will ever change the fact that we are the family that we have chosen to be. And regardless of what is going on in the world – that will always be something to celebrate!

Friends are the Family You Choose!

Caregivers Need Care, Too

I don’t think people always realize that when someone is ill, often there is someone behind the scenes taking care of them. I don’t think we should discount what the person is going through with their illness, but I think it’s also important to recognize that the people caring for that person are also going through a very stressful journey. It’s not easy to be a caregiver for a number of reasons. One of the biggest ones is that the caregiver is emotionally invested in the person they are caring for, so it is also hard for them to watch as their loved one is going through such a difficult time. Walking alongside them and caring for them is an act of love, but it is extremely emotionally and physically draining. I felt led to write this article to help people remember that while we should certainly and rightly focus on the person that is experiencing the illness, we also need to remember the people who are caring for them so that we can support them as well. Both need physical help, emotional support, and our prayers.

A great example for me personally is the fact that I recently had rotator cuff surgery. My husband has been my hero, as he spends each and every day meeting my needs. Because the surgery was for my dominant right arm which had to be immobilized for 4 weeks, he really had his work cut out for him. The physical therapy is an additional three to four months, so his schedule is completely disrupted as he continues to care for me and also facilitates the physical therapy exercises I’ve been assigned. All of this while working and taking care of all of the household chores. One of the best things that happened is that the day after my surgery, my very dear friend Sabitha came by our house and dropped off a package at our door, without even knocking.

She recognized that I was probably exhausted from my surgery and in no shape to greet anybody, but she wanted to help by providing my husband with food. He could continue to focus on me while enjoying the delicious soups that carried him through the next three days. I can’t begin to say how grateful I am for that very kind gesture. Another important point is that she didn’t wait for me to reach out to her. She acted. I’m not taking away from people who offer to help by saying, “Let me know if you need anything.” But the truth is, many people may need something (or at least would be blessed with a little help) but can’t bring themselves to reach out, fearing they will inconvenience others. By taking action upon herself, Sabitha met a real need we had and blessed us immeasurable by her gifts, both tangible and intangible.

Sabitha also had some goodies for me which I deeply appreciated, but the greatest impact for us was seeing that my husband was cared for so that he could care for me. What a blessing that was! On top of all that, she returned with more goodies the following week to cheer me on in my recovery. If you know of anybody who is going through a health challenge, please don’t forget them. They need continual encouragement and prayers. They also need love and support expressed in tangible ways. But don’t forget that their caregivers need all of that, too.

My Sister’s Legacy: Helping a Friend

Even when we know those we love are finally out of pain and in the presence of our Savior, saying goodbye is hard. I wish I could pick up the phone and hear my sister’s sweet soothing voice and ready laugh once again. When I think about my sister Lynn, I think about somebody who was very gifted in the creative arts. I remember from a very young age that she was always doing beautiful drawings. I also remember that she loved to sing and that music was a very important part of her life. But the one thing that I remember the most is the love that my sister had for the Lord and what that looked like in her life. She loved people and she was always taking younger people under her wing. She had a huge generosity that was displayed in many different ways. She had a passion for both life and for worshipping the One that gives us life. She had a great deal of enthusiasm for celebrating our family’s Jewish roots which are the roots of Christianity that culminate in Yeshua, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The very last text that I received from Lynn, she was thinking of me and not about her own situation. She knows that I love horses and she sent me this picture of these two horses. She wrote that the picture really touched her and when she saw it she thought of me. Her words were “This is so beautiful. The blind horse is being helped by a friend.” I wrote back, “It is very beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. Maybe someday I’ll write a story about the picture. Love you so much!” Her last text to me was her reply, “Love you so much too!”

I think the reason it resonated with her so much is because it was also a picture of who she is. The story I decided to write is her story. My sister would be the horse holding the feed bucket so that the other horse would be able to eat. I didn’t get to live very close to my sister, so I’m not sure of all the things that she was involved in, but I do know that whatever she devoted herself to, she did it with great enthusiasm and her legacy is the many people that she invested in with that enthusiasm. I am one of those people and I am so grateful that my sister was always an encourager to me throughout my life, even when she was journeying through her difficult illness. She was my cheerleader and she was one of my best friends. She would hold the feed bucket so that I could eat from it. She was the person who would look around and see what she could do to make someone else’s life better.

My sister modeled what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. She experienced much joy and did so many things during her lifetime. Lynn was also a nurse, an actress, a teacher, and a singer. She was so blessed to have two sons, Danny and Matt. Her wonderful husband Brian loved her deeply and accompanied her through the trials of this life, of which there were many. She faced each situation with incredible grace and she persevered, running the race laid out before her with courage and trusting the Lord every step of the way.

Lynn always called me Little Sis and I called her Big Sis and I’m very grateful that God gave me such a wonderful big sister for the time that I had with her. Somehow the increased frequency of our phone calls and texts made me feel better because we had some wonderful conversations, more than we have had in years, but also worse, because it makes her absence more profound. It wasn’t nearly long enough, but our hearts will always be connected and someday we will have eternity together. In the mean time, I will follow her beautiful example and do my best to hold the feed bucket for others.

I love you, Big Sis. I’m sure going to miss you. I have the feed bucket ready.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13 is an amazing verse which speaks directly to sacrificial love. The same love that brought Jesus to the cross because He loves us so much, He couldn’t bear to leave us in our hopeless state of sin and its dreadful consequences. So how can we live out the words of this Scripture in our own lives? As we celebrate Memorial Day, we remember those who laid down their lives, so we could be free. Their example is one way for someone to lay down one’s life, and we are forever grateful for their sacrifice.

Pastor Chad of Living Word Global Church shared a wonderful way to celebrate Memorial Day. Rather than buy into the consumerism that sadly revolves around this day, do an act of service to honor God. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – something as simple as a phone call to someone who may be feeling lonely. As Pastor Chad put it this morning, we are all going to die someday. God didn’t make our bodies to be perfectly preserved, so that we survive unblemished into our eighties. We are called to stretch and go out of our comfort zones to help others and point them to Jesus. As we celebrate Memorial Day, it would be good to reflect on those who have sacrificed for us and on what we can do to sacrificially help others.

While we are not all called to make that ultimate sacrifice, we can lay down our lives for others in many ways – by serving them. Our lives should be how others see God – by seeking the well-being of others and loving them in His Name. When Josh was in first grade, he talked about this topic. May the pure faith of a child bless your understanding of living a life spent in loving others.

Cultivating Empathy

I have been wanting to talk about the difference between empathy and sympathy for a while now. I have been reflecting on my response to my mom in my younger years when she expressed the various aches and pains that she was experiencing. I recall feeling bad for her, but I don’t recall comprehending the depth of the pain that she was going through. As I’m getting older and experiencing my own aches and pains that is a natural part of the aging process, I have been reflecting on the difference between empathy and sympathy, how I responded to her back then, and how I would today.

One of my favorite scripture verses has always been 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

This is a perfect picture of empathy. Sympathy is recognizing that somebody is struggling and offering some words of comfort from a place that while sincere, does not actually comprehend the pain the other person is going through, at least to the same extent as someone who has experienced it themselves. This Scripture verse tells us that after we have gone through a trial, we can comfort someone else going through a similar trial with the same comfort God has given us. That is so powerful!

I personally have some regret because I wish I was more empathic to what my mom was going through as she aged: her painful back issues, her frustration at being limited physically in her golden years, and her unspoken feelings of isolation. But upon further reflection, I find that type of empathy is often the result of growing in wisdom and maturity. It is the exception rather than the rule for younger people who have not experienced the same issues or if they have, it was temporary.

I have come to understand that my mom would hold no grudge against my lack of empathy, just as I hold no grudge against my own children. They simply cannot comprehend what they have not felt for themselves. Indeed, as parents, we typically shelter our children from our infirmities because we don’t want to burden them.

Regardless of our season of life, we can all still strive to become more empathic. How do we do this? I recently heard of Brene Brown and the work she is doing in this area. I wanted to share this video because I think it speaks very directly to all of us as to how we can exercise empathy rather than sympathy, even in those situations where we have not experienced what the person is going through for ourselves. I think it’s worth watching – I hope it blesses you, like it has me, with a better understanding of how to be more compassionate to those around us.

And if you feel a little sad or guilty for not having more empathy for someone you love who is no longer with us, I have empathy for you, for I feel those things as well. I would like to share the comfort I have received from God. He loves each one of us unconditionally where we are at. I also believe those who love us (including my mom) knew we were not yet mature enough to understand. They would want us to continue to grow and learn as we move through each season of our life, gaining wisdom and increasing in compassion, without being weighed down with regrets. The best way to honor their legacy is to live the best version of ourselves each day, without letting the past hold us back from being a blessing to those around us, and by cultivating empathy for others.

Silver and Gold

I was lying in bed this morning thinking about my old days at DeVry Institute of Technology and how much I love working on electronics. I was a faculty assistant while I was going to school. I remember when they were tearing down the upstairs lab to turn it into another classroom. DeVry decided to make the oscilloscopes available for students to purchase at a somewhat affordable price. Being a faculty assistant, I got first shot. The instructor that I worked for helped me choose the best one. It became the mainstay for my home lab along with some equipment I had purchased at the monthly sidewalk sale under the bridge in Dallas, affectionately referred to as “First Saturday.”

Oscilloscope and Analog and Digital Trainer

A DeVry analog and digital trainer consisting of a function generator, an AC power supply, and a variable and fixed (5 and 12 volt) DC power supply, became part of the lab that I had set up in my bedroom, along with numerous breadboards and a container holding various diodes, transistors, resistors, IC chips, LEDs, and capacitors. I also had a soldering iron and solder sucker I kept handy. I absolutely loved designing circuits on my bread boards and building projects. I spent many wonderful hours at DeVry learning my trade. It served me well, because I went on to work at a job as a test engineer for many years and I always said “I can’t believe they pay me to come into work to have so much fun!”

That was several years ago and my life has taken many turns since then. I married a wonderful man and raised an amazing son while doing many different things including teaching English as a Second Language at the adult education center in my community, getting my master’s degree, and teaching as an adjunct professor at Dallas Christian College, while starting a small business selling portable trail obstacles for horses.

Dallas Christian College

 I had a fantastic run indulging in my favorite past time – horses. I have been blessed with several wonderful equine partners over the years. Time, distance, and the busyness of life has caused my ability to participate to fade. I still ride but instead of three or four times a week, it’s been three or four times a year.

Bareback On Pistol
Mother-Son Time On Dylan

More seasons: In the last few years, I have devoted myself to writing. I started a writers group called the Carrollton League of Writers, going on three years now, and have been blessed with so many lovely friendships through it. I am in the midst of revising a 94,000-word science fiction novel that I hope to publish by year’s end. I have also taken up my husband’s passion of bicycling and we try to ride our bikes several times a week.

Carrollton League of Writers
Bicycling on the Greenbelt in Carrollton

Most recently, I have embarked on a new career path working in Information Technology as a Quality Assurance lead. As I lay in bed this morning, I felt nostalgia for and a strong desire to reignite my passion for electronics. But then I realized that God has given me many wonderful seasons and that my electronics time was a special season for me to enjoy, but not necessarily something to return to, or at least not to devote a tremendous amount of time to it.

God will always have something for me. What a blessing to know that He will continue to bring new things into my life, not to replace my previous passions, but to bless me with new experiences – new seasons.

My thoughts then went a step further. I think I was reminiscing about DeVry because a dear friend, the instructor I mentioned earlier, went to be with Jesus last month. It’s particularly hard to think about because he was also my husband’s closest friend and his passing was so unexpected. As I thought about him, and became teary-eyed, I realized that as the years go on, this was going to continue to happen, because it is a part of life. While our souls are eternal, our bodies are perishing, and we will be saying goodbye to many friends eventually. In the last six months, we’ve said goodbye to four dear friends and I find my grief coming out in patches, as special reminders of them occur randomly in my life.

But God told me something about that, just as He did about the areas of passion I described earlier that I’m no longer able to do. While I’ll always treasure the memories I have of my friends and look forward to reuniting with them one day in heaven, God is also bringing new people into my life, not to replace them because they will always have a special place in my heart, but because He loves us so much. Just as He’s bringing me new things to do, He’s also bringing me new friends. It reminds me of a childhood song we used to sing in Girl Scouts – Make new friends, but keep the old…one is silver and the other gold.

Silver and Gold

I thank God for both the new seasons in my life to look forward to, and the previous seasons to remember and cherish. I also thank God for the new friends He has been bringing into my life. It doesn’t make saying goodbye to those I love any easier, but it does bring comfort and hope for the future.