Monday, March 17, 2014

Finding Purpose

A young friend saw me make a comment on Facebook late Saturday night and took the chance that I would answer my phone. The strain in his voice revealed his mental struggle as much or more than his words did. He said he wanted an objective opinion from an experienced parent, someone unrelated to himself. To protect his privacy, all I can say is that this person expressed fears about his future and some big decisions he gets to make and some of the challenges that are making those decisions complicated.

I felt impressed to ask him "If you were promised that [in making a particular decision] you could not fail, would you be more inclined to go with that choice?" I was trying to find out if fear of failure was really the only thing holding him back from making his decision. He told me he doesn't want to start something and not be able to see it through to the end. He doesn't want to disappoint his family or friends. But I think most of all, like all the rest of humanity, he doesn't want to feel like a failure.

Fast forward to today: I woke up this morning feeling the same way I ended the day before -- out of sorts, disconnected, annoyed and feeling stuck in that glass box again. But I made myself get out of bed. Actually, I thought I heard the trash truck and leaped out of bed and hollered "Doug, the trash truck!" Then I stumbled, bleary-eyed, back to the bed and threw myself across it as Doug stepped into the room and whispered, "It's only Monday. The trash guys come on Tuesday. That was a construction truck." Ugh.

Of course, now I was wide awake. I buried my head under the pillow. I heard Doug whistling a hymn in the shower. I fell out of bed to my knees and thought a quick prayer. Doug had already fixed himself breakfast, but he still needed a lunch for work so I headed down the stairs to the kitchen. As I prepared his bagel and threw a brownie and some fruit in a brown paper bag, I made a mental list of to-do stuff. The number of tasks grew long enough that I decided to write things down. As I pondered my priorities, I thought about my young friend. I offered a more sincere prayer and I remembered something important. I remembered who I am. I remembered that Heavenly Father placed me here at this time and in this place for a specific purpose.

Whoa! Just like that, my glass box exploded into a gazillion sparkling particles. As light filled my heart, I felt hope and peace and joy. It took  the desire to do the right thing. It took faith to get out of bed and pray and ask for strength and clarity of thought. That desire and those acts of faith invited the Spirit, which enlightened my mind and eliminated Satan's chatter of negativity.

I wrote my friend a new message. I told him how amazing he is and how grateful I am for his example and friendship to our family. I thanked him for helping me remember who I am and for bringing light back into my life! I told him that as he remembers who he is, he will know what path to take. And as he recognizes his purpose, he will succeed in all of his endeavors. It won't be easy. But it will be worth every ounce of effort he can give.

As I  continue fine tuning this blog, I hope to fulfill a purpose of strengthening home and family and sharing the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What helps you discover or remember your purpose? What topics would you like to see discussed on this blog? I'm sure my passion for all good things - family, chocolate, baking, nature, music and books and food will all find a place here. Most of all, I hope that after you read my blog you'll feel hope and joy and know that you are loved!

 Looking at this picture of our daughter makes me smile! We have a big beautiful world at our feet!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Laundry's Done- Now What?

I smacked my head against the  wall for hours today trying to come up with a clever name for a new blog. I can't believe I neglected this one for over a year - a year and one week exactly!

I considered scrapping this blog and starting over, but I think I'll just pick up the pieces and move on, filling in back story when and where I feel like it. A lot has happened in the last year. Levi grew almost 5 inches taller and several shoe sizes. We gained a daughter-in-law, and another grandbaby. Micaela left for BYU and Doug's work responsibilities grew from construction management to CEO of Edkey, Inc. My mom stepped into the cancer ring for the fourth time and my best friend survived acute myelogenous leukemia. I developed an extreme aversion to scorpions after getting stung and discovering I am allergic to scorpion venom. We moved into our own home in November and just last week I sent in the final papers to complete my capstone course for my Bachelor's degree from BYU. Yes, after 13 long years, I am finally going to graduate. Ammon and his sweet wife Cambrai will also graduate in April and we are going to celebrate.

So now what? What does a stay-at-home mom, with only one independent, dependent child left at home do with all her free time? The same thing she has always done. Make choices. Hopefully the best ones. I've come to realize that we all have the same amount of hours allotted to us each day and we all decide differently what we do with those hours. Quite honestly, I don't see much more "free time." When you are a mom, there is always something that needs or wants doing. It's tempting to say that now I get to choose more of the things I want to do instead of what I have to do. But the truth is, I have always been doing what I wanted to do. I chose to  be a mom and tried to be the best mom I could be for my kids. I'm still trying to get it right. Because being a mom is a forever job. Mothering doesn't stop just because a child turns 18 or leaves home for college or career or gets married or all of the above.

To quote a friend, I am a perfectly imperfect mom. I wish for "do-overs" all the time. I did way too much spanking during the first half of my parenting years. And too much yelling. I feel sad when I think about those mistakes. Then one of my children will call or text or send me a Facebook message and thank me for teaching them how to clean a bathroom or ask for a recipe so that they can eat some "Mom" food. Then I feel like maybe, just maybe, I didn't do so bad after all. Of course, I didn't raise my children alone. I have the best husband and father for my children. They text him more than they text me. He is still their adviser and confidante. Plus, he speaks math. My children are all geeks, each unique in their own geekiness, and I couldn't be more proud.

Back to the new blog thing. I'm going to stick around here and see what happens. I still have a passion for food and books and families. I'm ready to step out of my comfort zone and share some of that passion. Maybe review more books. I know lots of authors. Authors make the best friends. They let me read their books. Especially if I review them. Plus, they answer questions about things like how to write horses into your book so that you can deduct riding lessons off on your taxes as "research." (A girl can dream!)

I have a passion for strengthening families. I'll probably blog about that too. Guest bloggers are fun. I can bring in "experts" on teaching our children more about faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

That reminds me: Did you know that while the U.S. and the U.K. are scurrying around trying to lengthen school days and reduce holidays and playtime for our children in an attempt to increase test scores to compete with Asian countries, China has announced that they are reducing hours in school and giving children more play time, because childhood mental illness has become rampant? In the U.S. childhood mental illness has increased as much as 8 times what it was in the 1950s. I don't think it's just time in school that's the problem here. I think this problem has more to do with the need for more and better parenting.

Well, it's after midnight and I've rambled enough. It's time to stretch and grow and share the joy that I've discovered as a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter and friend. I may do it through books, or share recipes. I have a renewed love for hiking and I want to repurpose some furniture. I'll let you know how that goes. I'm sure I'll rant now and then, but my goal is to bring light into my corner of the world. I hope you'll stop by and say hi!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pike Family Recipe for a Memorable 2012

Please ignore the formatting (or lack thereof). I'm tired of fighting that battle! I figured since I hadn't posted in a long time, I would catch the world up on what's happening! Life is good and 2013 is buzzing by.

The Pike Family Recipe For A Memorable 2012

Ingredients: Douglas, Kari, Amy (Sean), Kenny (Aprilynne), Kati (Chris), Jared (Christin), Elizabeth (Daryn), Ammon (and soon-to-be, Cambrai), Brittany, Micaela, Levi, the dog (Gentry), the cat (Jules), and the birds (Stevie, and Sky) and 18 (as of January 23, 2013) grandchildren.

1.      Begin the year by seasoning Doug with a rub of unemployment. Leave in Highland,Utah the rest of winter and let marinate. Check frequently for signs of a job.

2.      Pour Kari, Micaela, Levi, the two birds, the cat and the dog into a house. Stir in school, work, laundry, cello lessons, soccer, friends, Gilmore Girls’ marathons, church activities, Scouts, gardening, baking, reading, writing, and packing boxes.  

3.      Sprinkle with visits from Amy, Kenny, Kati, Jared, Elizabeth,,, (and their spouses and children), Ammon (so he can do his laundry), and Brittany. Oh…add a pinch of Grandma Pike, Grandpa and Grandma Collamer, and Grandpa and Grandma Newcomb and various other Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. 

4.      As the temperatures rise, remove from Highland, Utah house and stuff Douglas, Kari, Brittany, Micaela, Levi, Sky, Jules, and Gentry into a tent trailer in David and Becky Brooke’s driveway in Alpine (well, Levi, and Gentry slept in the house).  Baste with summer rain showers. Smoke with nearby forest fire. Let stew for 8 weeks.

5.      Fold in job offers from California, Idaho, and Oregon. Sprinkle on some magnificent chaos.
6.      Dunk Doug into Coos Bay, Oregon for three days. Quickly remove and set in Arizona’s July heat and leave to dry.  Baste with a new job in Mesa, Arizona and set to rise.

7.      Pour Doug, Kari, Micaela, Levi, and Brittany into Kenny’s house in Glendale, Arizona. Set oven to bake.
8.      Remove Brittany to Northern Arizona University and then to Brigham Young University.
9.      Increase temperatures with a couple of car accidents, and scares with Grandma and Grandpa Collamer’s health.

    As temperatures cool, frost with more soccer, piano lessons, choir, church activities and grandchildren (We have three new ones in that past 13 months – MaesonAnne Rose Anderson – January 12th, Emali Anne Carbonneau – April 4th, and Franklin Jerome Wright – January 23rd, 2013), and Ammon’s engagement to Cambrai Loftus. 

    Top with generous amounts of good health, daily miracles and tender mercies, heaps of friendship and hugs, and buckets of love.

   Serve over best wishes for your 2013 and a solid layer of hope in Christ and His Atoning sacrifice.
We hope you know how much we love and care about you. As crazy as this recipe has been, we think of you often and hope that life is treating you well. We would love to hear about what you’ve been up to!  Come visit, call, write, text, or… come visit!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Celebrating "Spinster's Folly"

I'm so excited! Here is my very first book review! (There's even a recipe!)

Marsha Ward. Spinster’s Folly- Book Four: The Owen Family Saga. Westward Books, Payson, Arizona, USA. 2012. 152 pp.

I don’t know how many times I’ve delved into reading a highly acclaimed series only to never finish reading more than the first book.  All too often, the sequels just don’t live up to the expectations set up from the beginning. Or, the sequels spend so much time rehashing over the background story, I get bored and give up. Not so with award winning author Marsha Ward’s Owen Family Saga.  Her first novel, Man from Shenandoah elicited a 5 hanky emotional response from this reader. (I was angry for days when Marsha let one of my favorite characters die!) She had me hooked enough to take a chance on her subsequent books and she did not disappoint me.

 Marsha Ward has woven yet another adventurous tale in Spinster’s Folly.  This fourth book in the Owen Family Saga takes the reader on Maria Owen’s magnificent journey of love, forgiveness, patience, and overcoming the odds.  Marsha deals with the trauma of abuse and manipulation in a bold, yet sensitive manner. Here’s a synopsis of this gritty tale:

“Marie Owen yearns for a loving husband, but Colorado Territory is long on rough characters and short on fitting suitors, so a future of spinsterhood seems more likely than wedded bliss. Her best friend says cowboy Bill Henry is a likely candidate, but Marie knows her class-conscious father would not allow such a pairing. When she challenges her father to find her a suitable husband before she becomes a spinster, he arranges a match with a neighbor's son. Then Marie discovers Tom Morgan would be an unloving, abusive mate and his mother holds a grudge against the Owen family. Marie's mounting despair at the prospect of being trapped in such a dismal marriage drives her into the arms of a sweet-talking predator, landing her in unimaginable dangers. This fourth book in the Owen Family Saga is infused with potent heart and intense grit.”

Marsha’s fellow Western authors agree with me:
“With a great sense of time and place, crackerjack dialogue and rich characters, Marsha Ward delivers Spinster's Folly, a romance, Western and historical novel rolled into one—and one fun read.”
~Johnny D. Boggs, six-time Spur Award-winning author of Camp Ford and Legacy of a Lawman

On a personal note, and since my blog posts generally involve food, and wedding and anniversaries always involve loads of family favorites, I asked Marsha about  the Owen family's favorite foods. 

“Beans and tortillas were introduced to Jessie Bingham in a small New Mexico town in Trail of Storms. Throughout their post-war days, the Owen family ate a lot of corn meal mush/fried mush. Here's a recipe: (Thanks Marsha!)

Corn Meal Mush 
First, you have to make the corn meal mush:

3 1/2 cups water, divided
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups corn meal

Combine 2 1/2 cups water and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Mix corn meal with the remaining water in a small bowl.

Add corn meal mixture slowly to boiling water, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.

This would be served in a bowl or on a tin plate. If they had milk, it would perhaps accompany the mush. If not, they'd eat it plain.

To make fried mush:

Prepare as above. Pour into 8 x 4-inch or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; refrigerate for about 1 hour or until set. Remove from pan; cut into 1/2 inch slices.

Fry slices in lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 mnutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Marsha shared some other interesting comments about the way the Owen family ate. “Once they got more settled and perhaps butchered a cow, or had wild game, they could make stew or roast the meat on a spit over an open fire or in a fireplace. They had not yet gotten to the stage of having an iron stove. Marie craves bread made with wheat. She's looking forward to the Bates's wheat harvest.”

Me: I'd have to say I'm kind of partial to my modern appliances - like refrigerators and ovens! I don't know if I could handle eating corn mush day in an day out. (shiver!) Marsha, what is your favorite food?

“My favorite food? There are so many. Among frontier foods, I like beef stew, greens from the garden, and eggs gathered warm from beneath the hen.”

Me: What kind of wedding cake did you have?

Marsha: “I had a spice cake. It was very much a do-it-myself wedding reception. I made my own dress, made the wedding party bouquets and boutonnieres except for my bouquet, planned and bought the frappe' punch makings, and would probably have mixed it if I could have (I'm such a control freak!). And it was beautiful. My dad built a lattice-work arch as the background for the wedding party.”

Mmmmm...Spice cake.

Me:  And such a beautiful bride! Marsha, you are mega talented! I loved getting to know and your characters a little better!
The new Marsha Ward with her parents on her wedding day.

 Join Marsha Ward November 10, 2012 – from 10:00am to 6:00pm for her Facebook Event (and celebration of her own wedding anniversary) where she is giving away super prizes in honor of her new novel. One of the prizes is Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards! (Did someone mention chocolate? Where? Where?)

You know you want to be there!!!! Hugs~

OH...You really want to read these, too. The first three books in the Owens Family Saga: