Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Gluten Free Thanksgiving Menu

Roasted Turkey stuffed with a quartered orange and seasoned with garlic and rosemary
Roasted Sesame Asparagus
Maple Glazed Carrots
Corn Muffins (except I made them yesterday and forgot to put them out. Oops!)
Sour cream and garlic mashed potatoes
Gravy
Gluten free pumpkin pie
Gluten free chocolate peanut butter pie
Fresh vegetables

The best part of the meal:  Family.

First Annual Thanksgiving at Aunt Pam's...

SUCCESS!

The family arrived at various times Wednesday night from Texas, Indiana and Maryland and the Thanksgiving holiday seems to be going off without a hitch.

Around 10am this morning as my brother and I are wondering where the rest of the family was, the phone rings and it is grandma.  She needs directions because mom is in bed sick, and just got back from the Emergency room.  Thankfully the folks at Rex Hospital treated her quite well during her middle of the night visit, although her children were upset that we were left in the dark!

Mom and Brad stayed at the hotel and rested a bit while the rest of us had a pancake breakfast (gluten free of course...they were good sports!)  Then the cooking began with the prepping of the turkey and making final plans for when to start the various parts of the rest of the meal.

With the turkey in the oven and nothing else to do we went for a short walk around the lake.  Grandma was a trooper and made it the entire way, and even up and down the hills at the end.  We estimate it to have been a two mile walk, both the little ones slept for part of it and we all had great conversations catching up...and made a few phone calls to check on mom.

Then dinner.  Wow we had a feast, with the typical traditional foods, and a few new healthier (and gluten free) alternatives!  I left the table in pain, but laughing.  Stephen and C.C. came with Darby and Henry and loads of good food (including a homemade carrot cake that looked AMAZING, however I didn't get to try it for obvious reasons!) and I can say my two bedroom apartment never felt so cozy!  We had such a good time laughing, sharing stories, and yes, eating.  And eating some more.

I LOVE that we all gathered here.  It was fun for me to do the cooking (and actually less stressful when it came to the eating part) and I LOVED looking around my apartment seeing my family here.  

How did you spend your Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I hated gluten today.

The last few weeks have been a challenge.  Gluten free life is difficult, but I have made it easy by mainly cooking for myself.  I have also become accustomed to the food establishments in the area and I know what I can get at each.  Well, with all of my travels and special events, I was out of control of my diet for most of the last few weeks. 

Before the staff retreat the staff and their wives were awesome about trying to accomodate me so I could eat with them, and I was incredibly appreciative, but after multiple conversations several days in a row I just wanted to be normal and not needy.  I hated gluten.

I didn't know the places in Kokomo or Indianapolis that had an awareness and even though I was cautious, I still managed to get some gluten, and that wasn't the worst part.  The worst part was that at every restaurant and every meal I had to bring up my "issues" with the server.  Each time the server gave me a funny face.  Each time they tried to help me order, and each time I felt worse and worse because I HATE to be needy or require special attention.  I hated gluten, but I survived, and my insides are almost back to normal.

Today some of my co-workers were going out to lunch.  I was invited to join them at the chinese restaurant and because it has been so long since I touched base with them I joined in.  And then I remembered how difficult it was to eat at a chinese restaurant, and I knew that most of the time I can order steamed broccoli and steamed rice, but I really didn't want to pay for steamed broccoli or rice.  I hated gluten in that moment.  I wanted to spend time with my friends but I didn't want the hassle.  I chose the hassle.  I hated that yet again, my meals were not simple, and that yet again I had to explain to someone (who didn't speak fluent english) about my problems.  I hated gluten today.

I took my dining card, which has the description of Celiac's disease on it and presented it to the girl at the counter.  She read it, and said, "there is nothing here for you."  Including the steamed broccoli and rice because of cross-contamination.  I really hated gluten in that moment.

I wanted to cry.  Not because I was hungry.  Not because she wasn't friendly.  Not because my friends were gonna eat and I couldn't, but because I just wanted to be normal.  I just wanted to walk into a restaurant and order what I wanted off of the menu without having to be a hassle.  I hated gluten in that moment and sat at the table and participated in conversation.

After they ate a bit I walked down the strip mall to a place I know has gluten free food.  I was able to get something, but everything on the menu containing gluten seemed to be what I craved, and again I hated gluten because my choices were limited.  It also meant another explanation to another server with another strange look at my request.  I will say, that I did splurge and get the chocolate shake because quite frankly, I was needing it, and it was gluten free.

I hated gluten today, but I am starting to get over it.  As I look at my Thanksgiving menu I am excited about the new "gluten free" menu items like sesame asparagus, maple glazed carrots and yes, even a pumpkin pie that sits on my counter cooling as I type.  I hate gluten, but I am learning there are new foods out there that I can enjoy fully, and look forward to learning about them.

And then there were 13!

I have written in previous posts about my brother and I starting some new traditions this year.  Thanksgiving at my house, and Christmas at his.  I was so excited about having people come to me that I started planning the menu weeks ago...and I have to admit, the excitement was also accompanied by stress because I was going to be out of town the two weekends before Thanksgiving.

Anyhow, up until today, there were going to be 6 adults and 1 infant.  Very managable.  Last night I finished up the grocery shopping, the fridge has more food in it than it ever has, and tonight was reserved for prep (pie making, vegetable cutting etc.) and apt cleaning.

And I cannot stress enough how excited I was to host!

This afternoon brought more excitement.  I found out that my friends Stephen and C.C. had a change of plans, and I got so excited I told them that they just had to come over!  I was so excited when they agreed.  Add two adults and 2 kiddos.

A couple of hours later I am chopping carrots and I get a phone call.  It is my cousin Trish up in D.C.  Several weeks ago she didn't think she could make it, but tonight she was calling to say she could and wondered if she was still able!  Of course!  Add one adult and one toddler.

Some might stress, I got more excited.  The "family" Thanksgiving is taking shape, and in 48 hours hopefully there will be 9 stuffed adults and 4 kiddos laughing in my little 2 bedroom apartment!

It can't get much better than this!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Desperate Times...

Call for desperate measures...

I typically don't use my blog for such purposes, but we are trying anything at this point.

Megan is getting married this weekend. The girls and I are trying to send her off properly. All things were set and in order until about 7am this morning when the phone rang.

Lisa's babysitter got sick. So, if any of you Indianapolis readers know me well enough and want to spend time with Lisa and Eric's incredibly sweet and adorable little girls, give me a call.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the road again...

I am getting things together to head to the airport...again.  Yep.  It seems to be a habit I can't break.

On the agenda:
6:30ish...arrive at Raleigh Durham Airport.  Start working on talk for Sunday morning.
Arrive in Indianapolis at 11:45PM tonight.
Sleep at a friends house.
Thursday morning hang out with Lisa and the girls.
Thursday lunch time have lunch with another friend.
Thursday afternoon spend time with mom and grandma.
Thursday night..Bachelorette Party.
Friday morning and day...sleep and do final touches on the talk for sunday.
Friday night, wedding rehearsal.  
Saturday morning, get all gussied up and have pictures taken with the wedding crew!
Saturday afternoon, stand by Megan as she enters the "married" realm!  
Saturday night drive to Kokomo (the cold one, not the warm one!)
Saturday night dinner and laughter with more friends.
Sunday morning share in services and sunday school classes at First Presbyterian Church in Kokomo!
Sunday mid-day.  Lunch and more time with friends.
Sunday afternoon drive back to Indianapolis.
Sunday 5:30PM arrive at the Indianapolis Airport.
Sunday 11:15 PM arrive at the Raleigh Durham Airport.

Stay tuned though, cause next week I am going to break my airport tradition, and go to the airport to pick someone up instead of fly out myself!  1 more week till the McKerring's (all three of them!) arrive at RDU!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Presence.

This year I am wanting something different out of Christmas.  I am wanting a revolution of sorts, but I am not sure it would go over well with friends and family.  

I have watched a few Advent Conspiracy videos over the last few years, and I like the concept, ALOT.

I like the idea of giving time to those I love instead of something they don't need.
I like the idea of not going into debt like so many others do in the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
I like the idea of not receiving one store bought gift and instead being given something far more valuable...time with those I love.
I like the idea of giving to those who need.  Those on the streets.  Those in poverty in the USA, and those in squalor around the world.
I like the idea of not buying something that someone doesn't need, when I could instead give something to someone who has great need?
I like the idea of the possibility of this being a new family tradition.  What do you think Matt?



The final box.

So when I returned to the USA I had friends trying to coax me to live in various places across the country.  This was fun, I heard many good reasons, perhaps the best reason was the one given by my brother and his wife, that I was going to be an aunt and an aunt should be near her nephew.  I still agree with that reason, however, they move every 2-3 years thanks to the US Navy and I can't keep up with that, or at least I don't intend to!

In March the idea of coming to Crosspointe came up, and although it wasn't a factor in the decision making process, a friend said to me, "Pam, it is warm here year round, I hardly ever get to wear more than a jacket. It is so much warmer than the midwest."

Like I said, it wasn't a factor in my decision making process to serve at Crosspointe, I will however admit it was a factor in my choosing NOT to unpack a certain box that was in my bedroom.

Today, the box was opened, and as I stood there shivering and pulling out the wool sweater and grieving the fact that the weather man predicted flurries today, I thought of my friend, and smiled.

This marks the final box of the move, so I guess it is official, I have fully moved into my apartment.  All of the boxes are unpacked and most items have found their place.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Griswald knock your heart out!

Did you traditions growing up?  Do you have them now?

I don't remember mine, which is really sad if you think of it.  I know that on Christmas morning my brother and I were to show up with coffee in hand if we expected mom and dad to come downstairs so we could open presents.  I also remember making ornaments when we were little.  But I also remember my friends having traditions with their extended family and friends who might as well be family.

Well, two years being in another country while your family goes through the holidays does something to you.  It creates a space and desire in your heart to fight for family and fight for those traditions, even though as a teenager your parents fought hard and you resisted.  You find yourself having to ask forgiveness for not putting family first for the last several years and begging to find a way back to it.

My brother and I are trying to take steps now so that our kids (mind you there is only one little guy these days...and can I tell you...he is ADORABLE!)  grow up with traditions.  Yes we know there will be times that Connor and his siblings and cousins will be annoyed with "family Christmas'" and we know that there might be years where it just can't be done, and we know we will have to be flexible, but our desire is to create that family space where everyone knows that everyone is welcome, everyone is loved, and everyone participates.

Only, we are learning it is really hard to do this.  It is hard to come up with ideas and it is hard to implement new things.   I am realizing that some traditions just happen.  For example, for the last several years (I don't even remember when it began) my brother and I would lie under the tree, stare up through the lights and talk.  Some of the best conversations I have had with my brother were under the Christmas tree.  When I was in Tanzania he made sure to follow through and called me while he was under the tree.  Last Christmas I was in Florida and he called again.  This year, I will be wiped from the five services we will have at Crosspointe Church on Christmas Eve and in my stupor I will be packing a bag for my 6am flight to Texas on Christmas morning, but my guess, is that he will call then too.  Because Christmas just isn't the same without it.

So, as we start fresh, I am curious.  What are your family traditions?  What does your family do that is crazy and nutty on Thanksgiving?  What about Christmas?  Do you have a pickle ornament on your tree, or do you have fights over the wishbone on the turkey?  

What are your Griswald family traditions?

Friday, November 07, 2008

November...

Is bustling.

The next three weeks from Wednesday through the weekend I am either traveling or having visitors in my home.  It is going to be an incredible time, however I am already tired thinking about it.

Which is why today has officially been declared a PJ day.  But don't be confused, that doesn't mean I am sitting around doing nothing, in fact it is quite the opposite as  I feel the need to have everything done and ready to go for both trips and Thanksgiving before the end of the day tomorrow.






Monday, November 03, 2008

Pondering the adjustment

My mind has been contemplating quite a bit.  I still find myself in this weird place of adjustment. There seems to be many facets, and they catch me by surprise.  Warning: this post starts off a little whiney...but it ends well!

Physical:
First, it is the first time in 3 years since I experienced fall...which also happens to be my favorite season.  There has been a serious adjustment however, with the weather changing and with it getting dark so early and staying dark well into morning.  For two years of my life the sun was up by 6am which made it much easier for this non-morning person to get out of bed.  But the leaves...oh my!  They are not disappointing and we have such a creative God!  

I am also experiencing "cold season" for the first time as well...and it isn't being very nice to me.  About a week and a half ago I stopped everything as I was feeling the beginnings of an old familiar routine (a cold leading to a sinus infection.)  It worked.  Within a few days I felt awesome.  Fast forward to today...or last night.  At life group I started coughing a little, by morning my back and chest are sore, and I coughed/choked through some of the day.  It comes and goes and I wonder if my missing out on "the cold season" the last few years is going to mean I am doomed this year. I sure hope not.

Emotional:
There are highs and there are lows.  The last few months have been a series of lows.  I was warned this would happen, and I saw it creeping up on me, but I ignored it, mostly because I kept finding other things that needed to be worked on and, to be honest, it is hard to admit that I was wrestling with depression, I mean, I have SO much to be thankful for.  SO MUCH!  A few weeks ago I was humbly challenged by a friend of mine to recognize my heart.  I talked to my another friend and started counseling a week later.  It's time to work on my own heart and the hurts and joys of the two life-changing years in Tanzania, and the last 6 months of returning.  The hard part of putting this out there is that I don't quite know how to put it into words, and I don't want undue concern to be caused.  But I am human, I have a heart, I was created with emotions, and lately they seem to be overwhelming grief.  I don't doubt that I am where I am supposed to be, I love my new role and ministry, I am still just grieving some of the last 2 1/2 years (yes, I not only grieve the 2 years in Tanzania, but there are some moments of grieving from coming back.)  

Spiritual:
Moses and the Israelites wandered through the desert after the exodus from Egypt.  I feel as if I have been wandering through a desert.  But awesome and amazing things happen in the desert, and like the Israelites, I sometimes need to be reminded.  Lately I have been studying about the Exodus, and I love what I am reading.  God always had a plan.  God was always faithful providing all that the Israelites needed.  God fought for his people.  God encouraged them and reminded them of where He brought them from.  And while I am learning all of this I am reminded...that He has a plan, that He is faithful and meets my every need.  He fights for me, encourages me and reminds me regularly of other difficult life situations He has brought me through.   I am seeing new things in myself, and I am learning a ton and I will say, that walking in the desert causes me to place myself nearer and nearer to the Lord and trust in His leading. 

I have continually found comfort in the following words:

The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.  Exodus 14:14

The desert is a lonely and uncomfortable place, however, I am pretty sure that if I wasn't in this place, I wouldn't be looking for all those reminders, and I wouldn't see the many ways the Lord fights for me.  I just need to continue being still.