31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 25: Understand Your Limitations

time suitcaseAre you a “drama junkie”?

When I was a kid, my Sunday school teachers taught me that “joy” was about “Putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last.”

What they didn’t say is that is also the recipe for resentment, when the balance gets out of whack.

I’ve had to learn the hard way, for example, that holding down a full-time job and full-time family means that there is only so much I can do for someone in crisis. Pray. Call. Take a meal or send a comfort box. Perhaps work out a short visit. But I cannot in most cases make the problem go away — and if I spend too much time helping my neighbor tend his garden, the weeds begin to take over my own.

It often doesn’t feel like enough. Selfish, even. But is it selfish to recognize that I have limited resources (time, energy, money) and need to prioritize giving my family what they need?

Sometimes, my “drama junkie” tendencies win, and I rush headlong toward a crisis, trying to eradicate any trace of the problem — there’s a rewarding kind of emotional rush that goes with it. It took me a long time to realize this, but this is a very real form of selfishness, abdicating the responsibilities of my own vocation in order to over-extend myself in someone else’s garden.

The last time I did that — taking over the care of three boys whose mother was fighting leukemia — put my own children at risk (something we discovered, and paid for dearly, a year later). Sure, my friend needed help — but my children needed protecting even more. That experience taught me the importance of understanding my own limitations, and of not letting the “drama junkie” win.

Do you have to fight your inner “drama junkie”? Is there any area of your life where you are over-extending yourself, and need to acknowledge your limitations?

 

 

 

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Wee Cook Wednesdays: School’s Out … Favorite Kid-Friendly Recipes!

cakeI’d like to toss this weeks’ column out to my readers … What is your favorite recipe to make with your kids when you have an afternoon to bake or cook something nice for dinner, and they all want to play “Rachel Ray”?

Chris’ favorite is “Bird-in-a-Nest.”  Poke a hole in the bread, break an egg into the hole, and grill on both sides.

Sarah likes to make “Comfort Cookies.”  We made a batch last night (at Sarah’s insistence) to take to a neighbor lady whose dad had passed away. It tickles me pink to see those little empathy buds blossom into full flower!

My favorite recent cooking memory was the creation of my goddaughter’s First Holy Communion ice cream cake. Of course, Pokemon cake was right up there …

Gingerbread house, anyone?  (That’s more for Christmas break, of course …)

What do you like to make?

Wee Cook Wednesdays: Comfort Cookies

comfort-cookiesI just got back from the post office, having mailed out a couple of Raising Up Mommy to conference participants … and a “Comfort Box” to a friend.

In case you’re not familiar with the custom, “Comfort Boxes” are care packages that you send to someone who has just experienced a great loss. The box can be plan or flowery (like the kind you get in craft stores), depending on whether you mail it or deliver it in person. What’s important is what’s inside:

* A box of “Comfort Cookies” (recipe below)
* A box of really good herbal tea (for late-night sipping)
* A pretty china teacup (representing the fragility and beauty of life)
* A really good book or CD, appropriate to the situation (for the death of a pet, a copy of Life with Marley; the death of a mother of a large family might be Cheaper by the Dozen or The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio; the death of a spouse might be A Severe Mercy. Another favorite is the audio version of Anthony Destefano’s A Travel Guide to Heaven).
* Optional items, suited to that particular need: A pretty journal or box of notecards, a gift card for a favorite restaurant (for a night cooking is too great a challenge after the casseroles stop coming), a small box of chocolates, an aromatic candle. Anything that will pamper, soothe … and add a touch of beauty.

Comfort Boxes are a tangible reminder of love and concern, best sent after the initial flurry of the funeral. Anniversaries or other significant dates (birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s or Father’s Day) that first year can be especially hard, and a time when this expression of friendship can be greatly appreciated.

Now … for those cookies! Comfort Cookies are a little hard, a little bittersweet (kind of like memories), and their spicy aroma fills the senses (especially when warm, or dunked in tea). One recipe makes at least 5 dozen, so they are great for bringing to funeral lunches, too. (Sometimes I dunk one edge in chocolate as a decorative touch.)

Comfort Cookies

1-1/2 C shortening
2 C granulated sugar (plus a small bag for coating)
2 eggs
1/2 C dark molasses
4 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ginger
pinch of allspice

Combine dry ingredients (stir lightly with whisk). Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, then beat in eggs. Add molasses and sifted ingredients. Chill 30 minutes, then roll in 1″ balls; roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet 2″ apart. Bake 375 degrees 10-12 minutes, until set. (If you like them chewy, take them out while still soft in the center — let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes.) Makes about 5 dozen.

For small children, make “cookie lollipops” by inserting a popsicle stick before baking.