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Just settling in from a Chicago conference for the pregnancy center where I volunteer.   My room was beautiful overlooking Chicago, completely paid for along with the flight.  I thoroughly enjoyed the city, but spent far too much money on excellent food.   The workshops were solid, with faith and fortitude being the primary theme.  I was pleasantly surprised by the international turnout and assurance of others across the miles with identifiable feelings — the absence of immediate reward or seemingly favorable outcome to their often consuming work and prayers.  Seeing others who fight the question: Is it worth it?  I had often considered and was affirmed, that if each volunteer only saved one baby, that was success if we  truly believe in the sanctity of life.  Who knows where the ripples stop…

It was also my 5 year anniversary this weekend and I still haven’t seen my hubby.  He is called away on work so much these days, so when the opportunity arose I considered it far less pathetic to be away from home without him this weekend than alone at home.  I’m very thankful for the retreat as it was refreshing for various reasons.  Today on the return flight I’ll admit fighting discouragement (probably just a repressed missing sensation mingled with fatigue), considering the pointed truth that if marriage were truly about one person’s needs being met, what an utter waste of time the whole ordeal would be.  I suppose similarly with faith work at a pregnancy center, or a ministry of sowing seeds,  marriage calls us to a humble abandonment of self for the ultimate glory of His kingdom.  Of course, certainly I hope and imagine all here have experienced months or years far more mutually beneficial than other seasons, but in those times that are of the “forbearing and believing” kind, the primary motivation is a confidence in the steadfast promise of the Covenant keeper.  Heidi once shared in an email – “His faithfulness, His promise keeping, is the paradigm in which we keep our promises.”  I will never forget this, as it was hand-delivered at a time I needed to hear it far more than she knew.

Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets, to a fault because I rarely read others.  I very much enjoy “The Wife” and have been thinking on her perspective this weekend.  While she was never married, she certainly grasped the concept and honor behind the commitment.  This is not meant in any stretch to portray a sense of martyrdom around a woman’s position in the family, as I think we can all agree that marriage has been quite quite good to us.   Rather, ours is a supporting role central to his success (however God may measure it) and a crucial reflection of the union between Christ and the church.  (You mean, it’s not all about me? *smiley*)  Quite possible Dickinson was reflecting on that parallel as well…

The Wife.

She rose to his requirement, dropped
The playthings of her life
To take the honorable work
Of woman and of wife.

If aught she missed in her new day
Of amplitude, or awe,
Or first perspective, or the gold
In using wore away,

It lay unmentioned, as the sea
Develops pearl and weed,
But only to himself is known
The fathoms they abide.

Forgive my humbled reflection, merely framing some note-worthy poems and quotes.  Still, I learned this weekend there’s courage to be gained through transparency.   I must prepare for Bup’s return… 

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I spent some time in the backyard Sunday to maintain a garden area the dear old lady who lived here before me must have planted with great care. Our house was built in the 30s and the backyard comes alive every spring with flowers and bushes and plants… bigger and brighter every year. I’m attempting to grow a green thumb… hoping it’s an acquired interest. My mother in law gave me great help this Sunday. I learned about ground coverings (I dislike the plant/mulch/plant look) and transplanting lilies. Here are some pictures.

My wild irish rose… bushes. I have four like this throughout my back yard. This is my only red rose bush and they always make me smile. They will not be tamed to grow in any orderly fashion, and I love them for it.

Begonias and impatiens spread well in the shade, as well as these viney ground coverings… There was also room in the arrangement for one gerber daisy, right in front of the tree. Hopefully all this will grow in quite nicely and the transplanted lilies will stop looking so weary from their journey. What you can’t see in the picture (because it’s looming over me) is a giant lilac tree that is so full this year it’s almost touching the ground. it creates a little cove, but of course not much can really grow in a cove. We’ll see if the impatiens can stick it out. :)

The moral of the story is, if you need help with your flower garden, don’t ask me… water my budding green thumb with your knowledge. :) I’m interested to hear about your flower gardens or vegetable gardens as well… what you enjoy planting most. I have found I greatly enjoy digging in the dirt… quite therapeutic. It’s also nice to think of taking care to preserve something of what this dear old lady left behind, a bit of her joy becoming mine.

My favorite light summer recipe…. a quick easy dinner idea that can be modified for a large family or cooking for one.  I don’t generally bake chicken because it dries out, but the bacon coats with the cream cheese seal in the juices. Yum!

Ingredients:
4 Chicken breasts or 6 tenderloins
1/2 c cream cheese
1 TBSP chives
6-8 rashers uncooked bacon

Preheat oven to 400 F. If using chicken breasts, cut a slit in the breast and stuff with mixture of cream cheese and chives. If tenderloins, sandwich cream cheese mixture between the tenderloins…. I’m not afraid to use a healthy amount of cream cheese, but I’m also not afraid of my ever-expanding reflection. Adjust accordingly. :) Wrap bacon around the chicken (I use two for each chicken piece). Place in a glass baking dish and pour about 1 TBSP of oil over the chicken. Bake for 20-25 minutes, brushing with oil half-way through. Season w/fresh ground pepper and enjoy!

Serve with salad:

Raspberry vinaigrette over Green lettuce or spinach w/craisins and toasted almond slices

Serve with a glass of rose’ if you enjoy the vino with dinner!

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