Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Autumn Apple and Sausage Couscous

Autumn Apple and Sausage Couscous

We made this delicious recipe a few weeks back and I can't get enough of it! It's hearty and healthy at the same time. My normally "meat and potatoes" kind of husband and kids loved it too!

1 12-ounce package Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations Chicken Apple Sausage, sliced
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 granny smith apples, cored and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lemon or a splash of bottled lemon juice
5 cups cooked couscous
¾ cup dried & sweetened cranberries
¾ cup chopped pecans (I normally skip nuts, but the crunch is important in this dish!)

In a frying pan over medium heat, cook sausage slices. Flip slices over to allow each side to brown. When each side is browned, remove sausage from pan to a bowl or plate.
In the same frying pan, melt butter. Cook apples and onions in butter over medium heat. Squeeze lemon over apples or give a splash with bottle lemon juice. Cook until apples and onions are becoming tender and slightly browned. Set aside with sausages.
In an ungreased skillet, add chopped pecans and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until pecans are golden brown. Remove from heat.
Combine the sausage, apples, onions, cranberries and pecans with the couscous. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm!

Recipe adapted from Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations Chicken Apple packaging

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Transgender Pride

Transgender issues have been getting some media attention lately, and I say it's about time!

Due to her own desire for privacy, I can't disclose any personal details, but I am related to a transgender person. She's my aunt and always has been. She underwent gender reassignment close to 15 years before I was born, but I knew at an early age she was born male.

Some of my family does not approve and I understand that. Gender issues are complex and very hard to empathize with. Maybe because she's "always been that way" and I never knew her as "him", I have never had trouble accepting and loving her.

I admit I'm still learning, but to me, transgender issues are easy to accept. Why would it be hard to accept the fact that some of us are born with gender identity issues, just as others are born with any other type of medical concern? It's not a matter of choice; it's a matter of birth!

(I'm sorry if that's not a PC sanctioned statement, but that's the best phraseology I could come up with after dwelling on this for two days)

I recently read the book "Beyond Magenta" by Susan Kuklin. While I wish it would have actually gone into more detail and featured more personal stories and research, it was enlightening.

For much of the transgender community, being labeled gay or lesbian is a source of frustration. My aunt happens to be attracted to males, so I was ignorant to think that gay went hand-in-hand with being transgender. It does not. Being transgender and being gay are two separate things. Transgender people either identify with the opposite gender they were born with or "no gender at all". It's very complicated and I'm by no means qualified to write much about it. All I hope to get across with this post is to express my new understanding of a bright a colorful part of the world I wasn't previously familiar with.

The world is a big, beautiful place full of interesting people, places and things. It's our gift from God that there is so much in this world to explore and enrich our lives. It's up to us, no matter what our affiliations and upbringings, to embrace it with grace, dignity, love and respect for all living creatures.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"He has no room to judge me"

"He has no room to judge me. He should be judge for his crimes against humanity."

This, from a friend who calls herself atheist but is truly a Christian hater. Why do I call her that? Because she respects all other faiths but Christianity and because she practices Wicca. True atheism is a belief that there are no superior beings, yet she worships multiple gods and goddesses she associates with Wicca. She does not insult or question Judaism, Hinduism, Islamism, etc., only Christians.

This comment hurts me on many levels. First, it's completely ignorant. Of course He did not commit crimes against humanity--humanity did!

Secondly, she's so full of hatred and misunderstanding, it's hard to bear witness to it.

Why would I remain her friend when she insults something as important as my faith? Because I know her and I know she has a good heart. I also know she struggles with demons she has a hard time controlling. It's also important to me that I lead by example. She doesn't realize it, but I'm inspired by her to be a better Christian and I can be thankful for her hurtful words in that way. She reminds me to lead my life as a good Christian, setting an example of what Christianity should mean... a life of love, acceptance and honor. She can insult our broad faith in a general way, but I will not falter. I will not loose my temper and sink to the level she might want us to in order to prove her point.

She mistakenly believes Christians see themselves as "perfect" and that we don't make mistakes. In reality, we know and accept that we cannot, nor ever will be perfect. We ask for forgiveness and remain humble. That does not mean we will not fail at those tasks, but we get up and try again and again. We love and accept, leaving true judgement to God alone.

I will pray for her peace, which I feel she must need a great deal. Someone with a peaceful conscience does not attempt to start arguments and throw insults.

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Angels

I know I've typed this all out before, but I must be afraid of forgetting... because I'm the only one who knows.

My husband knows about each of our losses, but by his own choice, he doesn't know their names. I chose them myself, with God whispering in my ear.

Gender was never confirmed, but if these names are wrong, there is no harm in it. I believe they each deserve recognition. They each deserve to be honored again and again.

I have nothing but their names to hold onto and the knowledge that I'll meet them one day.

November, 2006
(due August 2007)
The first. The unknown. The wanted. The whisper of things to come.
It seems so long ago now.

April 30 - July 17, 2008
(due 2/4/09)

1 Samuel 1:27-28 King James Version (KJV)

27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

28 Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.

Zipporah Leah 
Jan 3 - Feb 20, 2009
(due 11/10/09)
My little bird. You flew away much too soon, but you left a stamp forever on my heart.

Malachi David (twin to G)
April 14 - June 3, 2009
(due 1/19/10)

Dec 19 - Jan. 25, 2011
(due 10/10/11)

I love you all so very much and I think of you often. You've each changed me for the better and I can't wait until the day comes that I see you in heaven. My heart will always be with you, as you will each remain with me.


Resolutions: A List of ...?

I'm not a person who makes resolutions.

I consider myself a constant work-in-progress and though I normally love lists, I've never actually made one of this type.

However, maybe it'll help me to see what I was thinking on this date, Dec. 29, 2014.

Maybe I'm just trying to get out of work...

In 2015, I (hope to) resolve to:

  • Lose 50 lbs.
  • Forgive myself.
  • Forgive others (even if they are not sorry or if I never get an apology)
  • Appreciate family more
  • Reduce social media time
  • Read the Bible daily

Let all the rest fall into place.

Daily Acceptance Prayer  

Author Unknown  

I accept myself completely.
I accept my strengths and my weaknesses,
my gifts and my shortcomings,
my good points and my faults.

I accept myself completely as a human being.
I accept that I am here to learn and grow,
and I accept that I am learning and growing.
I accept the personality I've developed, and
I accept my power to heal and change.

I accept myself without condition or reservation.
I accept that the core of my being is goodness
and that my essence is love,
and I accept that I sometimes forget that.

I accept myself completely, and in this acceptance
I find an ever-deepening inner strength.
From this place of strength, I accept my life fully and
I open to the lessons it offers me today.

I accept that within my mind are both fear and love,
and I accept my power to choose which I will experience as real.
I recognize that I experience only the results of my own choices.

I accept the times that I choose fear
as part of my learning and healing process, and
I accept that I have the potential and power
in any moment to choose love instead.

I accept mistakes as a part of growth,
so I am always willing to forgive myself and
give myself another chance.

I accept that my life is the expression of my thought,
and I commit myself to aligning my thoughts
more and more each day with the Thought of Love.
I accept that I am an expression of this Love.
Love's hands and voice and heart on earth.

I accept my own life as a blessing and a gift.
My heart is open to receive, and I am deeply grateful.
May I always share the gifts that I receive
fully, freely, and with joy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Happy Celebratory Season

I will not get offended if you say, "Merry Christmas!"

I will not get offended if you say, "Happy Holidays!"

I will not get offended if you say, "Happy Kwanzaa!"

I will not get offended if you say, "Happy Hanukkah!"

I will not get offended if you say, "Merry Winter Solstice!"

I will not get offended if you say, "Merry Christmahaunukwanzaa!"

I will not get offended if you say, "Happy Festivus!"

I will rejoice in your greeting. I will appreciate your thoughtfulness. I will embrace your joy.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Does Social Media Bring You Down?

Recently, my light bulb went off.

Sure, it's still rather dim, but it sparked a small light nonetheless!

I admit to having a bit of a facebook addiction. I resolved quite some time ago to limit my posts to light, happy tones and (hopefully) nothing offensive.

That being said, the downside would be that I can't limit anyone else's content.

I have a few very close friends and family members who use facebook as a political or socioeconomic platform. Others who use it to "bash" religions and various lifestyle choices outside their own. Neither of these things appeal to me since I look to facebook as an outlet for socializing, which I prefer to keep in a positive light.

I don't mind the occasional political or religious discussion, but social media is not the correct place to have it in my honest opinion. I prefer to discuss these things in person, where physical and verbal expression are better understood. There is far too much "margin for error" in typing--you can't always gauge the emotion behind it.

Anyway, what I can't tolerate well is DRAMA. Not debate, but DRAMA. The made-up melodramatic tall-tales that are posted. I don't like someone telling me about their issues with an individual only to see them go online and post how fantastic the "problem" person is. I don't like the family members who are distant, inconsiderate and rude to my face who go online and discuss myself and my children as though we are closely tied loved ones. I don't like people who steal the precious photos I share and re-post them on their own page, taking credit for them.

I don't like DRAMA.
(All theater/liberal arts excluded. THAT is drama I can get on board with!)

I had tried the lovely facebook features such as blocking a person or hiding them from my newsfeed. I restricted others from my posts, photo albums and the like.

In the end, why was I jumping through these hoops? If I was "friends" with people who I'm essentially hiding from, why keep them at all?

Blocking seemed like the same kind of lie that I learned to loathe, so why not "un-friend" and then be honest about it if/when asked? Well, good or bad, that's what I decided to do.

First up was my mom. Yes. I un-friended my own mother.

Though she is an extremely active facebook user, she didn't notice for 8 weeks. By then, I lost my nerve and refused to tell her why because I knew it would hurt her feelings, however, I did stick to my guns. I didn't want to "block" her and pretend like I wasn't there. I refused to go into the details of my decision, but I did tell her that "its just better that way" and that I would't be changing my mind anytime soon.

Frankly, she's one of the worst people you can "friend" on facebook and by removing her, I'm happier and I honestly feel that our (already) troubled relationship will only benefit from the added space. You see, she did not raise my siblings and I. We'd go months without seeing her... then facebook comes along and we're now being portrayed as The Brady Bunch. I only wish I could be so groovy! Pictures were used and abused, false claims were made, judgements passed down... When she posted a 20-year-old photo of my ex-boyfriend and exclaimed how much she missed her "other son". I lost it. My husband (of 16 years) was much more gracious than I was, but after an hour of steam coming out of my ears, I clicked "un-friend" and I haven't looked back since.

I don't want to hurt her, but I'm refusing to be hurt by her. Social media is not worth our relationship and the future I want to build with her.

I know she's disappointed and maybe even mad at me, but one day I hope she'll understand that there was life before social media and there can be life without it.

To my brother, who likes to insult my faith and spout random (often unsubstantiated) political memes, I'll continue to keep him off my news feed and just "visit" him occasionally since he lives out of state. That's what works for him and I. To the DRAMA-filled "friends" of mine, you may be removed if it becomes unbearable. If that ends our relationship, I'm truly sorry, but perhaps there wasn't much of a relationship to begin with.

To those of you who openly insult my faith and mock certain types of spirituality, I'll continue to pray for you. I know how much you love that! ;)