Uncategorized


Nothing rings in the New Year better than coming down with the flu…and then an awful chest cold.  Ok, there are a lot of better alternatives.

I had every good intention to come back to Redefining Female the day after New Years–that is until the day before we were to leave my in-laws (New Year’s Eve), I got the stomach flu. Thankfully, any nausea I had, subsided before the two hour car ride to the airport and the flight back home. Yet needless to say, I was absolutely wiped out when we got back. Then, a day or two later when I thought I was getting better, I came down with an awful cough which progressed to basically feeling weak and yucky this whole past week.

But, rather than wait another week to resume blogging, I thought I would share what I have been doing with my time on the couch.

What I have been watching:

DowntonAbbeyDownton Abbey

Now, I know I am a little bit behind as season 3 episode 1 just aired here in the US, but better late than never, right? One of my closest friends has been recommending this show to me for a while, and so for Christmas, I asked for seasons one and two on DVD. She was right–it is SO good! Beginning right after the sinking of the Titanic, the show follows the lives of a British, upper class family and their large staff of servants. The relationships, social dynamics, and well-developed characters make this show more than a little addictive. I am already done with season one, and into season two!

What I have been reading:

Unladylike

1. Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church, by Pam Hogeweide. In this book, Hogeweide talks about something that is often “hush-hush” in our churches–that is the attitude that women are somehow less in God’s eyes and incapable of ministering alongside their brothers. I am still in the middle of it, but will share my review here soon. Here is the trailer for the book, check it out:

2. Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, by Peter Reinhart. This was one of my favorite Christmas presents this year (my husband definitely knows my heart and how much bread baking has become a part of it)! This bread cookbook however, is not for the faint of heart! It is more like taking a class from Reinhart who is a Johnson & Whales Bread Professor. I am learning about wheat, the chemistry of flour and dough, and so much more! Ok, I may be becoming a bread nerd, but I love it!

Whole Grain Breads

What I have been eating:

Southwestern Chicken Soup from Cooking Light

This is currently our favorite chicken soup, and as soon as we came home, I told my husband that I wanted us to make this! It has different flavors than traditional chicken soups, but it isn’t spicy. The simmering of cumin, garlic, and onion in chicken broth, makes the base of the soup so good!  Add in the creaminess of white beans and avocado, and you have comfort and yumminess in a bowl!

Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to my husband. This past weekend he folded laundry, made dinner, straightened up the house, and for the greater part of Sunday–got me all my meals, and all the liquids I could drink! I am so thankful to be doing this journey–in sickness and in health–with him!

What do you do, when you are sick?

 
Advertisements

With Christmas only 8 days away, I thought it would be fun to start our week off talking about one of the best parts of the Christmas Season–the movies! And though my husband is kind of right (he says they’re all predictable), what can be better than a Christmas movie and a Chick flick all rolled into one?

So, grab some Christmas cookies, and see if you agree with my “Top Christmas Chick Flicks:”

little_women_frontcover

 

Little Women (1994, w/ Winona Ryder): Maybe its because I am the second oldest of four girls, but this was one of my favorites growing up.  Based on the book Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, this film reveals the lives of four sisters becoming women, in New England during the Civil War. And the main character, Jo March is a woman you can cheer for and admire, as she seeks to become a writer, leaves home, and falls in love.

 

 

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

 

While You Were Sleeping(1995): Sandra Bullock–in many of her movies–plays a woman you either want to be, or be friends with. In this one she plays a lonely women who works as a clerk for Chicago’s subway system. When she is stuck working on Christmas day, she witnesses “the man of her dreams” get mugged and then pushed onto the train tracks. She saves him from an on-coming train, only to find her life is turned upside down! Really fun–and who can’t forget “Joe Jr.” (“Hey Luucce…”)

 

Serendipity (2001): Who doesn’t love a chick flick with John Cusack in it? A great story of two people, meeting by chance at Christmas time in New York City, and then spending years trying to find each other again.

john_cusack_kate_beckinsale_serendipity_001

the_family_stone_2005_1

 

The Family Stone (2005): Its funny because the “romance” part of this movie really isn’t my favorite part. The Family Stone is about a guy who brings his girlfriend home to his very close, quirky and critical family, for Christmas.  But, as I said, my favorite part isn’t the romance, but rather the family. I love the family dynamics, and how the beginning of the movie shows everyone coming home for Christmas, making me want to be home. It is the perfect picture of how very good and yet dysfunctional it can be to be with your family!

 

The Holiday (2006): If only we could all switch homes with someone in England or California at a moments notice! This film is about two women who are recently broken hearted, who switch homes for Christmas in order to escape the reminders of their pain. Each woman meet people on their journey who help them learn more about themselves, and redirect their lives in a sense. My favorite character is Iris (played by Kate Winslet)–she is funny, vulnerable, and relatable.

jack_black_in_the_holiday

 

What are you favorite Christmas Chick Flicks?

But if you break down, I’ll drive out and find you, If you forget my love, I’ll try to remind you, And stay by you when it don’t come easy.”

–Patty Griffin, When It Don’t Come Easy

I was born a little independent. So, I have many memories as a kid of getting lost. Interestingly though, they all seem to end the same way…

water slides 2The first time, I was four years old, and our family was on vacation. We went to a gigantic water park in Canada. Part way through the day, I left my dad’s side–not because I was distracted in the kiddie pool, but because my mom and older sister seemed to be taking forever to come down the water slide. Without a thought, I left my dad and little sister who were waiting at the bottom of the slide, and went to see what was taking so long. I walked up the huge hill, climbed the large stair case leading to where all the water slides began, and at the top looked into a “sea” of strangers’ faces–none of them belonging to my mom and sister. I started to get scared.  A stranger asked me if I needed help but I shook my head no. I made my way down the stairs, and instead of walking down the path around the slides, I began to walk down the hill, under the slides. I started to cry, wondering in my young mind if I would ever see my parents again–until I saw HIM.  My dad running under the large water slide tubes, toward me.

~~~~

A year later, you would have thought I had learned my lesson.  My youngest sister had just been born (count them 3 sisters–4 girls!), and we were in a Hospital in Boston to meet her for the first time. My dad took me and my other two sisters down to the cafeteria for lunch, and on the way back, I found my way over a crosswalk and into another hospital.  Again, when I realized my mistake I tried to find my way back. But in the middle of the crosswalk, my five year old self started to cry. I had no idea where I had come from or where to go. A man asked me if I was OK, but I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, so I didn’t answer. I wasn’t sure what to do. Finally he said, “Is that you’re dad?”

Coming from the opposite end of the cross walk, running toward me with panic all over his face, was my dad. He had found me.

~~~~

Then, at fifteen, when I wasn’t exactly lost yet trying so hard to find my footing in a school where I often felt invisible, I decided to take a drama class. My favorite memory from that class was an afternoon presentation we did on Romeo and Juliet. I, of course played…Romeo (Drama Class = more girls than guys). I told my parents about it, but figured with them both working there was no way they could come. But, just before our “audience” arrived (aka a few freshman English classes), as I was practicing my lines (Act 1, Scene 1) with “Benvolio,” again I saw HIM. Walking down the aisle in our High School Auditorium–there was my dad. I know parenting is much more complex than I can comprehend, but I do believe at least sixty to eighty percent of it is just showing up. In that moment, as a fifteen-year-old girl–my dad made me feel seen, important, and loved.

~~~~

Finally, during my freshman year of college, when I had given my heart to a boy who had dyed his hair to look like flames–a boy who was giving me more pain than love–my dad found me once again. It was Christmas break, and I was not my usual self.  My heart was broken, yet unwilling to see the obvious. I was new to this “love” thing, and I felt oh so lost. Until one morning, when my dad could take my sadness no more, he said the words no one else would say to me; the boy was just bad news, and I was letting him treat me badly which broke his heart. The last words I wanted to hear, yet the most needed ones.  He found me in a very unhealthy place, and brought me back to a place where I could see my worth again.

~~~~

As a father of four daughters, I am sure there were many moments (there still are), when my dad didn’t know how to relate to us. But what I wonder sometimes is if he remembers or realizes all the moments he has found me, helped me, and made me feel seen.

In the Bible, God often refers to Himself as our Father (and less talked about, even like a mother)–which sometimes can be difficult for us to relate to if we don’t have good memories about our parents like the ones I have shared today. We are all broken, living in a broken world–and we have all experienced that brokenness either in our families or friendships. But I believe that one of the most important things God intended to show us through our parents is how unfailing and unwavering His love is for us. In fact, Jesus uses a very powerful story of a man and his son, to clearly illustrate this for us in Luke 15:11-32.

In the moments where my dad found me in the past, he probably thought he was just doing his job as a father. What he may not have realized is that he was modeling an incredibly important truth about God for me. In the past year, I have shared I have felt a little lost as to know where God is leading me. Yet, as I reflect on my times with my dad, and as I sense God telling me He knows exactly where I am, I begin to feel at peace.  Just as my dad has found me over and over, my Heavenly Father promises to do the same.

Today is My Dad’s Birthday…so I just want say Happy Birthday Dad!  Thank you for always finding me, and for loving me the way you do!

christmas cookie funI had a completely different post planned for today, but sometimes the creative process just doesn’t cooperate.  At the same time though, I really wanted to share some things I love about the Christmas Season. Last week, I shared about how sometimes traditions can cause us more stress or exhaustion around the holidays, while others make Christmas that much sweeter. Here are my 12 Things that I “can’t wait” for this month–or things that make Christmas sweeter. In no particular order:

1. Making Christmas Cookies

2. Starbuck’s Christmas Blend Coffee

3. Seeing my Grandmother

4. The moment we touch down in Boston (where I am from)

5. Being with my sisters (and brothers & sisters-in-law!)

6. Spending time with our parents

7. Seeing our “already-getting-way-too-big” nieces and nephew!

8. Seeing extended family

9. Making cinnamon rolls (you have to admit the food is one of the best parts about Christmas!)

 10. Christmas Movies (i.e. Elf: “I love smiling, smiling’s my favorite!”–LOVE it!)

 11. Looking at our lighted-up Christmas tree

 12. Christmas Music

What do you love about Christmas?

May you be surrounded by friends and family today, and may you have a wonderful celebration of all that is good in our world! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

When I was in 8th grade, I had an English teacher who told us that her last name meant “star.” She had us read these incredible books that opened my eyes to worlds I had never known–and she dared me to write.

She gave us assignment after assignment on writing, so that at the end of the year, my classmates and I had literally written a book of short stories.  However, out of about fifteen or twenty stories, there is only one that I remember quite vividly; the story I wrote about Thanksgiving. The reason it was so special? My mom and I wrote it together.

My teacher had us write about making a Thanksgiving meal with our family, and as a part of our story, we were required to include two recipes.  Not ever having made Thanksgiving dinner (other than helping in the kitchen, cutting apples for the pie, or potatoes to be mashed), I went to the Cook of all cooks–my mom.  She gave me two recipes, and then helped me write out the process of making each, in a creative way.  As we wrote, it struck me how much goes into making each part of the Thanksgiving meal–and that my mom did it ALL for us so beautifully.

Later in life, when my husband and I were dating, we decided to make our own Thanksgiving meal at my apartment and host some other Pennsylvania transplants. We planned what we were going to make, bought all of the food we needed (as locally grown as possible), and called my mom–a lot! She talked me through making her stuffing recipe, baking a turkey, and making gravy (which didn’t turn out so well, but was definitely a beginner’s error!). Overall, the meal was a success!

As we prepare to feast heavily on aromas and tastes of tomorrow’s Holiday, let us not forget to be thankful for our mothers or grandmothers who have traditionally filled our Thanksgiving tables with deliciously prepare food. And perhaps if we are not the “cooks,” let us bless whoever is cooking our meal with help–either in preparation or clean up!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few days after Halloween, my husband and I went to Target for a few necessities (i.e. discounted Halloween candy). And as we made it to the back of the store where the “spooky” candy display was now filled with markdown signs, we couldn’t help but notice that Santa’s workshop was aglow, right in the next aisle. In other words, “Halloween is over, time to start shopping for Christmas!”

As I tried to ignore the glittering Christmas ornaments and lighted trees, I began one of my inner “can’t we just enjoy Thanksgiving” rants. Then I realized, that I was being a little self-righteous. Usually, I don’t even think about Thanksgiving until the week before, and rarely do we think about “preparing for Thanksgiving,” short of buying food and a turkey. So, I began to wonder, what does it look like to be fully prepared “heart-wise” for Thanksgiving?  And the obvious came to mind:

Being specifically and mindfully grateful for all that we have been given.

It is an attitude that should flow from us all year long, only for some reason it is on the “forgettable” list (right up there with “what did I mean to get at the store?”). Sadly, it always seems easier to list the things we want or that we “could really use right now,” than to enter into an awareness of all that we do have, even in the midst of hard times.

So, as we begin the week leading up to Thanksgiving, I thought now would be a great time to be mindfully and specifically grateful for all that I have been given.

I am grateful for:

A husband who is my greatest supporter, best friend, and the most patient man. (oh, and did I mention he’s also the best looking man I know?!).

Our family who, though both sides are states away, show us love and support in great ways. 

Friends to walk with me on this journey.

Students from years past that I am still in touch with.

Local farmers who provide us with the most beautiful foods to eat.

A roof over my head, electricity, heat, water, internet, etc.

Clothes to wear (so often we forget that having multiple outfits is a luxury!) 

The opportunity and ability to learn how to make bread.

Two arms and two legs that give me the ability to serve others, to go on adventures, and when I am disciplined, to work out.

This blog, the opportunity to write, and You who keep coming to read it!

What about you? I would love to hear what you are grateful for!

(I am linked up today with Tina, from She Loves Magazine, and her gratitude list)

Next Page »