Monday, February 28, 2011

Big Dreams, Little Me

Dreams bring with them the kind of euphoria that comes from triumphing over an unknowable foe. When we dream, we are unstoppable.  Possibilities spill forth, vivid, like party streamers - colorful, joyous, free.  Our minds rush to link together problems with solutions, transforming "if" into "when" and "someday" into "now".  In our imaginations, there are no unopened doors, no keyless locks, no hidden treasure chests.   When we dream, we are unable to hear the voices that remind us we are finite.  Fallible.  Fearful.

Most often, those voices are our own.

My husband has big dreams.  The people who know him, and love him, best often simply laugh when he shares his dreams.  "Ross," they say, "You don't have the experience to do that."  Or, "Why would you want to do that?  Aren't you happy with what you have?"  Or, the worst: "What if you screw up?"

I have said these very things to him myself.  Fear grips me, sometimes, and I speak out of panic or distress.  "Ross," I screech, "why do you want to flip a house when our own is falling apart?"  I coo, "Honey, why do you want to buy another gun when you never shoot the ones you already have?"  I squawk, "Why are you trying to get a job across the country when everything we love is right here?"
I peck away at his dreams even as I try to create a comfortable, happy nest for us both.  I am not unflappable.  I am clipping Ross's wings because I myself have forgotten how to fly.

This weekend, I remembered how to dream.

I traveled back to my alma mater, Clarion University, to meet with other theatre alumni for an informal memorial service.  We wanted to say good-bye to Melissa Lynch, our talented and beautiful peer, who died unexpectedly late last year.  About twenty or so of us got together and said our farewells with bawdy stories, silly memories, and some tears.  Melissa was different than many of us, we learned, because Melissa's dreams had been forcibly pressed through the sieve of life - and become her reality.  In fact, the reason Melissa held joy and success in her tiny, nail-bitten hands was because it was she herself who had grappled with those dreams and shoved them through that potentially destructive thing called life.  Dreams, to her, were never a far-off hazy vision of a future that could someday be.  To her, they were wild mustangs meant to inspire and delight - and, ultimately, be broken, tamed, and commanded.

I never had talent to rival Melissa's.  Thank God we were never up for the same roles, or I may have grown to dislike and envy her, rather than admire her.  Even as I remember her, I admit the hot sting of jealousy pricks at me, and I plaintively wonder why my life has turned out the way it has.  Do not misunderstand me - I would never want any man other than Ross by my side, nor would I trade my family - as wacky as they are - for any others.  I would not have given up my years at Starbucks for tireless nights playing the chorus in a Broadway play.  Yet...there is something beyond what I have.  Something bigger.  Something greater.

The Bible tells us that Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel, was a dreamer.  His dreams came directly from the Living God...and his sharing them got him into big trouble with his jealous family.  He was sold, thrown into prison, and left to die.  Joseph was mourned by his father, despised by his brothers, forgotten by all...he feared...except his God.  God orchestrated the events to eventually pull Joseph out of prison garments and straight into royal robes.  Joseph's childhood dreams came true in a literal sense when his brothers, starving in Canaan, bowed to him as they begged for food in Egypt.  The story of Joseph ends joyfully with redemption, forgiveness, and restoration; no wonder it was turned into a Broadway musical!

I believe that our big dreams often do come from God.  How we proceed to chase after them, however, is up to us.  How we respond to them, too, is up to us.  We can trust Him who is bigger than our biggest dreams to help us achieve them, or we can convince ourselves that our God will abandon us and our dreams, leaving us empty and confused.

I am coming into a place where I am learning, again, what it means to trust in an unseen God.  I am learning that he gives my husband dreams as he gives me dreams.  The difference is that Ross sees his dreams - however far-fetched - as God's way of reminding him that there is something bigger and better for him, that he is not abandoned, that his talents will someday result in success and achievement...and I -and others - have seen his dreams as inconvenient and foolish.

I am ready to start dreaming again.  I am ready to take the dreams God gave me long ago, hold them tenderly, and allow him to breathe into their lifeless forms again.  I am ready to allow him to outfit me with the wings of his making - not mine -and guide me to a place that I could not imagine before now.

For the first time in a very, very long time, I am ready to fly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Announcing the Forthcoming Arrival of...

A brand-new, beautiful, bouncing baby...


And some restaurant reviews.

Fooled you.

So...some new writing horizons are opening up for me.  I have recently started writing restaurant reviews for  You'll be able to pick them out by the fact that I am unable to write negative reviews.  Even if I didn't like a place, well, I can't pan it.  Don't have it in me.  I'll have to mention how nice the waiter's apron looked.  Or how clean the windows were.  You'll see.  Check out the link on the left of my homepage.

And see what I think of other people's cooking.  And windows.

Also, hopefully in the near future, my husband will begin to post for his financial blog, cleverly entitled "Godlove's Money".  This is only clever, of course, if you appreciate the subtle "pun-ctuation".  Ha, another joke.  I am so on a roll today.  Anyway, he will be sharing good, solid advice for people who want to learn how to use their money wisely.  Although his mini-lessons are primarily geared towards young people just starting out on their own, he has lots of advice and ideas on staying our of debt or taking steps towards getting out of it.  I am very proud of him because he has a real passion for seeing people free from burdensome debt.  He is currently helping one of our close friends get scholarship money for her graduate studies.  You'd be surprised at what they'll give you money for.  Being a female over 5'10"?  You bet.

I missed out on that one.

At any rate, keep your eyes peeled.  Our respective blogs reflect our real passions in life: healthy, fun cooking and financial wisdom.  Other than Jesus, some good friends and a killer pair of heels (for me, at least), what more in life do you need?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Saturated Animal Fats

My lower lip trembled as I forced myself to meet his gaze.  It all came down to this, then.  I had competition.  "What does she have that I don't have?" I asked softly.

Ross paused, then replied.  "Sprinkles."

The Other Woman, dear reader, turns out to be none other than that syrupy-sweet tramp Little Debbie.  She's after men's hearts and stomachs, if not their pocketbooks, but she's a dangerous foe.  It's hard to compete with high fructose corn syrup and processed white sugar, but I have been doing my best.  In fact, as my close friends can verify, I have been trying my hand at baking again, and I have been doing quite well, thank you!  My latest triumph was a whole-wheat treat studded with delicious blueberries and topped with a sweet streusel.  It was called "Blueberry Boy Bait" and it was incredibly good!  I thought I was doing better...but then I found the enpty box of Little Debbie snack cakes in the trash.

I was furious.  I had bought them with the intention of putting them in Ross's lunches as an ocassional treat.  I mean, those things are crazy high in saturated fat and sugar.  Not to mention, they have no nutritional value at all.  Here, he had been sneaking them and then returning the box to the back of the cupboard.  I hadn't even known he'd opened it, and there the thing was, empty in the kitchen trash.  Tricky son of a gun!

It was hurt.  I was angry.  Sure, I was the Sugar Nazi...then the Sodium Nazi...then the All-Purpose Food Nazi...but I cared about his heart!  I didn't want to lose him to diabetes or high cholesterol!  And it wasn't like I was denying him sweets.  He got all sorts of yummy snacks in his lunch.  Cookies, often, in fact.  His favorite cookies - Giant Eagle "Magic" cookies - full of chocolate chips and M&Ms.  Why would he do this to me? 

I confronted him like McCarthy would have grilled a movie queen with socialist sympathies.  When had he opened the box?  When did he finish it?  Why did he decieve me?  Then, a new question popped into my head - why was I getting so mad about it?

I once read an article in a secular magazine that talked about treating your husband differently than you treat children.  For example, you're not supposed to lecture your husband about what he eats.  Feh, I sniffed.  What if your husband was eating Hot Pockets three times a day and drinking nothing but Mountain Dew before you met him?  Now, I realize...well, he was, of course...but he has improved by leaps and bounds since I started cooking for him 18 months ago.  He requests salad.  He likes spinach, pepper and asparagus.  He loves tuna and salmon.  He almost never eats red meat.  He prefers whole wheat bread to white bread.  He eats lowfat yogurt.  He likes lowfat yogurt.  He takes vitamins and a baby aspirin daily.  He takes a brisk fifteen-minute walk twice daily. 

What I am I panicking about?

Maybe I am being unreasonable because both his father and mine suffer from diabetes and sometimes seem older than they are.  I love them both too much to imagine losing them at all, much less to a preventable disease.  Maybe I worry because I know that I was so sickly as a child, and that poor health habits only contributed to my condition.  Maybe - and the most plausible reason - is that I worry because I am still struggling with the issues of trusting and letting go. 

I am, like many women, possessing of a controlling nature.  While there are many areas in life where this is a benefit, relationships are generally not one of those areas.  Plus, it makes me look crazy, worrying about all this stuff.  If God cares enough to make sure that wild animals get food, of course he is concerned with Ross's health.  My inability to trust Ross to make wise choices regarding food is synonymous with my not trusting God to take care of Ross.  Both are really bad decisions on my part, and both lead to more fear and less happiness.

And who on earth needs that?

Tonight, as we head out to a new restaurant for Valentine's Day, I will make a step in the right direction.  I won't urge him to avoid the salty fries or the greasy meat.  I'll encourage him to get something he will enjoy.

I will, however, pack for him a reduced-sodium ham sandwich, carrots, graham crackers, yogurt and a banana tomorrow for lunch.

We all have to do our part, you know.

Just not obsessively.