Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thank You For Being My Friend

How do you help someone who is going through probably the roughest time of her life?  What can you say to lift their spirits?  To make them smile?  To tell them, in all honesty that, while you don't really understand how they feel, you want to try.   And then, what can you do to try to really empathize with them?  So your words aren't an empty, "call me if you need anything."  Is it possible to even try to help take away someone's suffering? 

My friend, Joan, has cancer.  I hate cancer.  It's cruel and selfish.  It takes what it wants and doesn't care who it hurts.  But, with my friend, Joan, it picked the wrong person.  She isn't cruel and she isn't selfish.  I was trying to think about how long I have known her.  It's' just been a long time, since our kids were really young.  This girl is the smartest and funniest woman I know, with a wit that is fast and sharp.  She sees puns everywhere.  Even in her pain, she sent me a picture of something she found on an invitation, showing me the pun.  Always searching for the happy side of things, the humor in life.  And, she finds it. 

Joan has taught me so much.  She has been an amazing example to me of being a good mother and wife, of putting in the extra time to make a homemade meal instead of cheating and getting it pre-packaged.  Of not being afraid to work hard and pay your dues.  She is a nurse, both a physical and a spiritual nurse.  There was a time when she helped me nurse my wounds after I was hurt through gossip and the choices of others.  Her counsel was witty and honest.  For a long time we shared scriptures, quotes from famous scholars, and my favorite, Shakespeare passages.  One summer, Joan taught my kids how to play tennis.  It was a blessing for my children to get to know her on that level.  She was patient and encouraging, positive and fun.  It was a great experience for them.

I believe people come into our lives for a reason.  I knew Joan in high school and even had her brother for my English teacher.  But it wasn't until she moved into our neighborhood and we became friends that I really got to know her.  She has taught me a lot.  She has been an example to me of how to be patient when things are tough.  How to see the humor in every situation, because at the heart of it all, there is humor.  How to make really good Jell-O when you're pressed for time.  How to be yourself even though other people might not agree.  How to support your husband in his church assignments, even though it might be a sacrifice at home.  How to really love the Lord and be humble before him.  We have helped each other through some tough days and tried to see the silver lining.  Something we used to talk about a lot was "it will all come out in the wash."  It's funny how that is actually true.  She is an example of how to be an amazing daughter; the way she has taken care of her elderly mother is truly an example of charity and love. 

Right before Thanksgiving, we went on a small adventure to the local drive-in in a neighboring town where we both are from.  It's called Kirt's and they still have car hops there.  As we sat there on that warm November day and enjoyed milkshakes and onion rings, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this woman, my friend.  Even though I know she was in pain, she was all smiles.  We even went on a little shopping jaunt to Smith & Edwards for some penny candy and kitchen gadgets.  I watched her tear around the store on her crutches like she owned the place and I knew this thing called cancer was not going to get the best of her. 

Like is always the case with Joan, she asked about my kids, about me and my husband.  She genuinely wanted to know.  She told me of her triumphs, even small ones, and beamed when telling me about her children, husband, and missionary son.  She glowed brightly as she shared stories of her faith with me.  It was a time to be cherished.  She taught me so much that afternoon, just like she always has, but this time it was special because I knew she was going through a lot.  To still be able to take the time to inquire about others is one of her gifts.  I felt her love for me through her smile, through her excitement at seeing the fancy gadgets to cut a pineapple into the perfect ring, and as we rifled through the penny candy and loaded up our shopping cart.  It is a day I will always treasure. 

This is what I mean when I say, how can you help someone who is suffering, when, in spending time with them, they help you in your own suffering?  In trying to cheer up my friend, I was the one who probably benefited the most.  This is what it's like to be a light to the world.  To be able to be kind, generous, patient, uncomplaining, happy, and even funny, even when faced with adversity.  To all who know her, I know you will agree.  Joan is a strong lady.  She is noble and honest, faithful, true, and loyal.  If you tell her something in confidence, she won't share it with anyone else.  She is fearless and grateful.  Happy and hilarious.  Possessing charity and compassion, wisdom and grace.  She is my friend.  I am blessed because she is my friend. 

I know God is a God of miracles, that his promises are sure.  That when we are humble and ask with sincerity and real intent, he answers our prayers.  When we bend our will to his, we are blessed.  I know that God knows best.  After all, he is our Heavenly Father.  I know that Jesus Christ is God's literal son, that he is our Savior and that through him we can live eternally, forever with our families.  I know that faith in God and Christ can make miracles occur.   I know that if a miracle is what is best for us, then we will get the miracle after much fasting and prayer.  My prayer is that my friend will have miracles.  A miracle of healing, a miracle of no more pain, and a miracle of a speedy and full recovery.

If there is anyone on this planet strong enough to go through what she is facing, it is Joan.  She is one tough lady and cancer should never have even thought about messing with her.  She is an inspiration to all who know her.  She can beat this and then what will cancer have to say for itself?  It will say, "never mess with Joan---she kicked my butt!"  

To all who have or have had cancer or loved someone with cancer, I know you understand.  Prayers for all of you and prayers for a cure.  I'm sure one day soon there will be one.  Until then, let's get this thing done!  Cancer, get out of the way!  Didn't you hear?   My friend Joan is in town.

Click and watch the music video below.  This one is dedicated to you, Joan.  Love, Gean

Thank You For Being A Friend--Andrew Gold

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bliss = Eggs Over Easy

Happy January everyone!  I hope your holidays were lovely and peaceful.  Ours were and I'm grateful.  Now it's January and I love this month!  I've been cleaning out closets and drawers, throwing things away, selling clothes I don't need and hardly ever wear, and trying to simplify my life even more.

Do you like simple things?  I do.  I love beautiful things that are simple and honest, without a lot of hype.  Food that is delicious, but not hoity-toity.  Clothes that are classic, well-made, and will last for years, but that not everyone else has.  Shoes that are comfortable, but also pretty.  A home decorated by our family's adventures and experiences, personal art work, talents, and achievements, instead of purchased from the store.  The perfectly soft and squishy, down feather pillow.   A car that gets good gas mileage, blazes through the snow, and will last to 200K miles.

I've been thinking about lessons my family and I learned in 2014.  Many were happy and exciting, others were sad and difficult, leaving wounds still waiting to heal.  I don't make resolutions.  I don't like the word.  I like goals, but I don't ever set more than one or two at a time, or they won't be accomplished.  I also don't usually share my goals with other people because I don't want people having expectations of me.
I want to have my own triumphs and accomplish things for the right reasons.

One thing I learned about myself in 2014 is that I like runny eggs.  Please bring me poached eggs and eggs over easy, and some rye toast to dip them in.  And, please kill me now because for my whole life I have missed out on this lovely, simple, and beautifully yummy treat.  Oh, the humanity !  At my house when I was a kid, when frying eggs, my mom poked the yolks so they would cook hard.  The scrambled eggs were really little yellow crusts.  I grew up paranoid that runny eggs were raw eggs, or bad eggs.  One day last year I realized that although I have never been a picky eater, I had never even tried the runny eggs.  I had been pre-conditioned to think they were bad and gross, so I had always ordered something else or prepared them differently for my own family.  Although, to my credit, I don't make gross, yellow crusts for scrambled eggs.  My husband is the scrambled egg king.  His eggs are super delicious.
I digress.

One day when out to breakfast I decided to live dangerously and order eggs over easy with a side of rye toast.  Can I just say, oh my heck!  It was so delicious, I had no words!  I couldn't believe that as a child I had been robbed of this yummy-ness and that it took me 50 years to decide for myself to try runny eggs.  Each bite of the toast dipped into the egg was like a bit of warm, summer sunshine in my tummy.  Bliss.  Then, as often happens when I get excited about something, I became obsessed with making the perfect eggs.  I wanted the perfect combination of soft yolk, but enough of the runny egg for my rye toast.

Voila!  It happened as a little miracle just this week.  I had a doctor appointment south of downtown and had a lunch date with my handsome husband afterwards.  I had an hour to kill in between so I wandered into Crate & Barrel to have a look-see.  I gave myself a small budget to spend, hoping to find some treasure to inspire my new culinary goals for the year.  Then I saw it!  A pan made just for poaching eggs.  I knew I had to have it!  Then I found a crepe pan, straight from France, and knew that was on the list also.  So I left the store with my egg-poaching pan, my crepe pan, a new French wire whisk, a jumbo spice ball herb infuser, and a bright, new, and happy apron.  I was ready to get cooking.  Dinner that night would be crepes and eggs.  I stopped at the store for some berries and Nutella.  Soon I was home, washing and preparing my new culinary tools.  Happy face!  The crepes were beautiful, light and delicious.  A real French hit!
But, the eggs were beauty personified in yellow and white.
Four minutes was all it took for heaven to slip out onto toasted bread.
A symphony of warm, yellow goodness.

I have already made eggs three more times.  It makes me happy.  I'm actually glad it took 50 years to discover this simple and delicious new taste and now skill.  I wonder, what else have I been wrong about for 50 years?  Just because someone else, like your parent, doesn't like runny eggs, doesn't mean you can't like them.  And just because your mom hates cats doesn't mean you have to.

Why a post about eggs?  You might say, Gina has lost her mind.  Maybe I have, OR, maybe I've found it.  Bottom line, people.  We don't have to like or dislike what others tell us to like or dislike.  We are all created to be unique individuals and with our own set of talents and gifts.  We are not supposed to be copycats of one another!  Just because my neighbors all go to Disneyland 27 times a year doesn't make us want to go.  We don't care about Disneyland (gasp!)  We would rather see Alaska, ride the ferry to the Outer Banks, go on adventures looking for lighthouses, study the tide pools of Oregon, eat North Carolina BBQ (vinegar!), go river rafting, go whale watching, go to Chinatown (Sam Wo's), eat at Houston's, ride motorcycles in the Dominican Republic, swim in the Caribbean ocean, hike waterfalls in the rainforest, and pile 22 people in a broken-down Toyota Corolla taxi tied together with chicken wire.  If Disneyland really speaks to your soul, I guess that's up to you, but don't go there 42 times per year just because everyone else does, and don't go there just because it's the only place your parents ever took you.
Maybe they were scared to have other adventures.  Maybe they were scared of runny eggs.

One thing about my upcoming 2015.  It's now runny eggs all the time.  No more hard, rubbery, gross yolks.  I want to be in the warm, glowing sunshine.  Obviously, hard eggs are served to us on lots of days because things happen to us that we don't choose.  But, when I can choose, and I believe I can always choose my attitude about things, I will choose the eggs that are sunny-side up or over easy.  Life is hard enough to eat hard eggs.  Eggs over easy sound a lot more happy, a lot more doable, a lot more fun.  The way I see it is, if I am given hard eggs, I will be grateful and I will eat them and appreciate them for what they can do for me.  But when I can choose, I will always choose eggs over easy.

Here is hoping that 2015 will bring us all blessings and happiness, even when eating the hard eggs served to us through others' choices and actions, failing health, or just life itself.  On those days, I will remember eggs over easy and how it only takes 4 minutes to make them perfectly, how because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, even my hard-egg days can be made easy again because of His love and sacrifice.
I just have to choose His way, which is easy, or the world's way, which is hard.  Which will you choose?  For this girl, it will always be eggs over easy, with a side of rye, dry.