Thursday, January 28, 2016

Finding Purpose in a Storm

  Winter is hard on those of us who experience hypothermia when the temperature falls below seventy degrees. At the peak of my hibernation, I could sleep twelve hours a day, a number that will easily half itself in six months. Of course, no busy mother has the luxury of that much sleep. Winter is still a time of doing, with maybe a little scheming mixed in. 

   The blizzard arrived with much fanfare and emptied store shelves, fingers firmly crossed that no power would be lost because the only thing worse than a snowstorm would be a dark and waterless one. The 40 mile per hour winds pounded our house all night. 

   In the morning we awoke to a varied landscape of both flurried sprinklings and deep drifts. As I drank hot coffee, I dreamed of a future filled with weedless raised beds and a rejuvenated strawberry patch. What better gift can you give your husband than following him around with the seed catalog and brainstorming aloud about the backyard? It's what every man wants to do when there's two feet of snow that needs to be shoveled on the front step. 

   Oh, but there was much to do inside, as well. New bookshelves still in their boxes awaited their assembly, followed by boxes of books that had been stored and almost forgotten. 
"Hello, old friend!" I thought as I unpacked my small collection of books. My collection isn't large. During my ten years as a librarian I had the keys to the kingdom and could borrow most any book I wanted to read. What I do own is usually rare, truly loved, or was received as a gift. Once they were unpacked and shelved they looked a little strange, and I had forgotten ever reading some of them. A new book is like a snowstorm, I decided. It arrives with much hype and hope, you delight in its beauty and might as the pages turn, and ultimately hope for a happy ending. Then it's quietly forgotten until someone brings it up in their memory and wants to reminisce about it.

    I also thought a weekend of being shut in would be a great time to put up the gallery wall that I've been furiously pinning for two years. The Mister got out his tools, the levels, and in his tender and sensitive way asked me, "So what do you want?" 
Music to my ears except I couldn't remember how I wanted the shelves and the frames, and maybe I had written it down but I couldn't remember that, either. Further discussion uncovered that we couldn't agree on what pictures would go in the frames, and my project idea sunk in a sea of incompatible preferences. In the end, we decided to do something else on the wall. 

   Marriage, too, is an ever changing forecast of sunshine and shadows. The wind may howl, the rain may come, lightening, and you hold hands as you appreciate a clear day all in the same week. 

   So much of our daily lives is indicative of nature, all of it reflecting our Maker. We are created for the purpose of reflecting the glory of God. What a relief that it isn't to collect books, hang pictures, or even bake the perfect bread. It's a relief, in the same way it is when you realize life is not about you or your wants or needs, but about showing love to others. It is a relief, yet a challenge and opportunity.

     The blizzard left in the way they often do, with plenty of sunshine and blue skies. Rising temperatures began to melt those drifts, and two days later it was all forgotten. It makes you wonder what that was all about, a big snow come to disrupt our life for a weekend. I'm sure it had purpose.

   A few years ago I started making this savory macaroni and cheese with butternut squash. It's one of my favorite cold weather comfort foods. The secret is to use at least three kinds of cheese in addition to one soft garlic cheese. 

Four-Cheese Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound butternut squash, cooked, seeded, and lightly mashed
8 ounces elbow pasta
4 teaspoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup low-fat milk
2 Tablespoons semi-soft garlic and herb cheese  
1 cup mozzarella
1 cup cheddar or other shredded cheese combination

Cook pasta and drain. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk and continue whisking until mixture is smooth and thick. Add the garlic cheese and whisk until fully melted. Stir in squash and cooked pasta. Stir until coated. 
Use cooking spray or butter to coat a medium casserole dish. Spread half of the pasta mixture evenly in the dish and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Repeat the layer and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. 


  1. Lovely post. So glad you survived 'the storm' and had plenty to do to distract you from the wind, snow, claustrophobia, and the chance of being in the dark and waterless.

    1. I'm also grateful that my husband could be home and wasn't scheduled to work on such a treacherous weekend!

  2. You've done it again! Beautiful words. I feel blessed. And I could just sit and stare at this bird photo all day. <3

    1. Thank you so much! Your kind words inspire me. :)

  3. It was so sweet to read this post. :-)

  4. "...a sea of incompatible preferences." I like that. Much of life is learning to navigate that sea.

    And oddly, the storm (like the one we're home in today) can be good for our rest. It forces us to stop, slow down, play games, have a second cup of coffee, and just to revel in the safety and comfort of home. Speaking of which, tonight would be a great night for pizza! Here in our home, carried in by The Mister, for a movie night. You're invited. :)

    1. I would love pizza at your house. Based on pictures I have seen of your delicious pizza, that looks like an unbeatable invitation.

      That's so true about learning to navigate that sea, and sometimes I feel like a Captain, while other days I'm walking the plank.


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