Control Issues

This week, my daughter Hannah came to visit and helped me prepare for our Thanksgiving Holiday. We went grocery shopping daily and spent hours in the kitchen baking, cooking, and organizing the meals that would sustain us for four days of family festivities. We had so much fun that was continuously punctuated by Hannah proclaiming, “That could be in your next blog.” I guess that has become the euphemism for my blunders and bloopers in the kitchen. The more I planned and prepared for the week, the more excited I became for the arrival of family. I know that plans never go quite the way I imagine, but that is okay because I expect that and have secondary options ready. I paired the family into teams with tasks so that everyone was involved and I would have the help I needed. Our family is so adaptable and agreeable we could be consultants for corporations that need conflict resolutions ( which would involve chocolate). When I try to orchestrate a group I can be just a tiny bit oppressive. My “control issues” over executing a plan comes from years of lesson planning in the classroom, and accommodating children who have different learning styles and levels of interest. I like being prepared and knowing that we all have an end goal in mind. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, that planning, preparing, and being watchful for the Lord is an important part of Christian life. Whenever we help the “least of these”, it is as though we are ministering to Jesus himself. Thanksgiving feels like a good dress rehearsal for this. The primary prep starts in the heart. There must wisdom in the planning, joy in the preparation, and patient watchful eyes ready for action. As my pots bubbled over with joy and my family laughed over my constant cooking advising; I realized how grateful I am to have help. What wonderful teams we had to take turns in our little kitchen making hot dishes and meals to share. The feast was not so much the food, but the opening of heaven as we sit around the table, sharing stories with love radiating in our hearts. As the family departs and returns to serve in their own communities, I sweep up the crumbs in the quiet time and look forward to the next feast. Asking for help is way to let others shine and a happy way to work together. I promise I won’t say another word about what to put in the stuffing. I know who is in control.

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Limp and Lifeless

imageYesterday, I was astounded as I got out of bed and saw that the fresh cut flowers, that I purchased from Trader Joe and put in the vase the day before, were now limp and lifeless. Hydrangeas are hearty and long lasting in most cases. There was still ample water and I even used the mystery packet of powder that is to increase the life of an arrangement. My first thought was to take them back to Mr Traitor Joe and demand a fresh batch. Then I wondered if there was something I did to cause this demise. I tried to revive them by changing the water and cutting off another inch of stem. This morning two of the blossoms are attempting to look perky. The third blossom is hanging over the edge and looking hopeless. The water supply must be cut off most likely from the way I cut the stem. One more attempt to save it before I count it as a loss. I took a pin and poked holes in the bottom of the stems to see if that will allow water to climb up the vascular part and give the blossoms a new poof. Dehydration is often the culprit of many of our physical maladies. Thirst, fatigue and headaches can alter the way we think, perform and respond to others. This is why I start each day with tea and meditation time. I am not functioning well without a little hot water and herbal aroma therapy every morning. The meditation is just as important because scripture is an ever flowing stream of inspiration for me. It helps me to focus on the positive way God is working in my life and how to share it with others. I feel limp and lifeless without the morning cup of tea and the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts. I must compliment those who carry a water bottle everywhere so they can drink before they dry out and lose their perkiness. And I praise those those who have God’s word written on their hearts so they can lift people up in prayer at a moment’s notice. I don’t mean quoting and condemning at every convenience which I have seen characterized on Sitcoms, but offering water and the word to comfort and support others. If we are to blossom we cannot be cut off from the source that gives us life and love. Drink deeply little flowers and enjoy new life.

Sneeze and Snooze

Two days ago, my nose started dripping and I stayed home all day trying to control the flow. I wish it was as easy as tightening a washer on the faucet. Zinc and echinacea is always our first line of defense along with drinking lots of fluids. I am ever so thankful for all the trees that have sacrificed their lives to make Kleenex tissues. We seem to have a dozen boxes always handy thanks to Costco. If I was standing, my sinuses were clear but I was getting weary. If I sat back at just the right angle with my feet up, I was able to breathe- and nap. Napping is a luxury I rarely enjoyed when raising three giggly girls. On Sundays, football games resulted in much cheering and intense coaching from the couch and thus ruined any chance for a little snooze. A day of rest is so important and we really have lost the essence of what God intended for us. This, I am sure, is why my nose started to run. Seven World Series games and a night of elections returns cut my sleep down to five hour nights. Very foolish. Something about watching with the whole world as events unfold was too exciting to miss. In addition, I relented and got a flu shot last week to comply with the Hospital regulations for volunteers. All these challenges on my immune system were tempting the lurking viral visitors. Extra garlic, turmeric and vitamin C will surely shorten the course of my sniffles. Plus, a few extra prayers from my family and my TFFs assures me that there is help if I need it. Inability to breathe certainly blocks normal brain function. I grabbed a can of Frijoles Negros (which you savvy Spanish Speakers know means black beans). I started to drain them for my dinner which included quinoa and sweet potato. It looked awfully soupy, so I looked at the reverse side of the can and it said in English, “Black Bean Soup”. Oops. Not much soup was wasted but I changed the recipe. I love experimenting with new vegetarian options to make healthy meals. Last Thanksgiving the stuffed acorn squash was a big hit. So, I am ready for the holiday season and some Merry Making. Remember to top your holiday list with self care which may include turning off the phone and taking a nap. I am praying that nothing more goes viral this season except acts of kindness.

You and Me or I

Yesterday, I had the joy of going to the Charleston Book and Author luncheon with my book club. There were six authors who have been on the New York Times Best Seller list. Not only can they write but they all can spin a great yarn to promote their books. We were laughing uproariously for each of the ten minute book talks. I bought “Between You and Me” by Mary Norris, a book on grammar by an accomplished editor. She had amusing tales about her title, and concluded with what one should do when we hear people make grammar mistakes. She said you can correct them kindly or you can keep them as friends. She opts for the second choice in most cases. I bought her book and proceeded to the table to meet her and have her sign the book. When I was next in line, the previous lady handed me her phone and said, “Will you take a picture of Mary and I?” I snickered and pointed to the book title and said, “Do you mean ‘Her and Me’?” The lady froze like she was just tagged in a game of statue. I thought I heard the wheels turning in her mind for a moment and then we all three burst out with laughter. I took the picture. Mary then asked, “To whom shall I address the book?” I thought my hubby would enjoy it most since he is a fine writer, but opted for the ‘Cordell family’ believing we shall all read it. I told her that my hubby is a fan of Strunk and White, authors of the famous grammar booklet, because his grandmother used to double date with E. B. White at Cornell University. What I learned from this adventure was that good communication requires a command of the language, a good story, and humor to keep things lively. Several people in our family have this gift. I am still developing in this area. My favorite pastors have this gift, which may be why I love going to Sunday Services. My father in-law taught me that the most important part of communication is the elocution. Even the best story can be a bomb if it isn’t delivered with the right timing and timber. So many good stories are lost when the punch line is given with a drop in tone or mumbled to quickly. If I am not laughing, it is because I did not hear the best part. I have dreamed of writing and performing since fifth grade and have had the good fortune to participate in many plays. Now, as I concentrate more on writing, I will continue to enjoy the books from the very best authors. No story is complete without an audience to enjoy it, so I want to thank all of my readers for your continued support. You inspire me and breathe life into my dreams. Life has more meaning when there is communication between you and me.