Personal Blog by Rhonda Crowdis Hardisty

Archive for May, 2014

5 Minutes from the Heart: Nothing

Nothing-W-out-GodLinking again with Lisa Jo’s Five Minute Friday. Check out the sisterhood over at http://www.lisajobaker.com where awesome things are happening all in he name of supporting mothers while proclaiming Christ as King.

Nothing is a concept about which I know very little. I have always had something; something to do, something to wear, something to eat. In fact I have a hard time having nothing to do, and it’s obvious I have missed few meals.  My daughters will tell you that though there were times when we had little, we never did without. We joke now about how we lived on biscuits and eggs for days at a time, and how biscuits and pancakes are now comfort foods for us all. Too bad there wasn’t a carrot or celery bush in the yard back then, so they would be our comfort foods.

Nothing is concept about which God wants us to know more, in the sense that we should be nothing and He should be everything. Nothing should separate us from His love. Nothing should be held in greater esteem than He. Nothing is what we brought into this world and with which we will leave. Nothing is impossible with Him. I am nothing without God.

So, everything I am is because God gave me the ability to be and do. God’s wisdom, strength, favor, and knowledge pull me through all circumstances as long as I rely on Him and not myself. Nothing is a concept about which I know very little, but nothing is what I am without God.

My God provides.

My God reigns.

My God lives in me.

My God heals.

My God sustains.

Without Him I am nothing, and with Him I have everything!

 

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Always in Our Hearts

SeymourCityLimits2007This weekend we are going to my Dad’s family reunion in the small town of Seymour, Texas. It’s a place we all love to go; where we can soak up the nostalgia and history of our ancestors. It always makes me imagine how my Dad must have grown up, as  I drive down the streets he used to walk and past the school where he learned to read and write. We have heard his stories so many times of the first grade teacher who drove him home the day the school bus left without him. We know well where his father, who he now calls Pappy, ended up the day Nanny sent him for bread early one morning. Hours later when my Dad was sent to find him, there he sat in the domino hall, loaf of bread under his chair. He knew when my Dad walked in the door, just what he was going to say, “Momma said get home, ” and he did.

We drive through the center of town, past the old car dealership where little is left aside from a vacant parking lot to give you any idea of what once was, but my Dad knows. He tells of the time he and a friend stole hub caps from that lot when he was 10 or so. Then went down the block to try to sell them to the junk man who knew good and well those were brand new and not for sale. Back then kids were sent to return the things they had taken. Reluctantly they did what they were told because they had respect for their elders. All it took was the thought of a switch from the tree in the yard for them to obey.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s a story of bees my Dad and Pappy tried to smoke out of someone’s house, but ended up catching it on fire and running from the swarm instead. There’s a well they dug, higher than my Daddy’s head, at the house next to the cemetery where Nanny and her siblings were born. There’s the cactus covering the ground at the farm out on Throckmorton Highway where Nanny helped raise her younger brothers as well as her own children for a time. I think of the way fresh laundry must have smelled in the wind as it hung on the lines there in the yard, and the work Nanny must have put in to scrubbing the stains off her brother’s and husband’s clothing after a hard days work.

I think of a time when things were hard, but they were simple. It was a time when expectations were implied, but they were met. There was no question who wore the pants in the family and everyone answered with a yes, sir or yes, ma’am. No one was disrespected and children were allowed to be children, playing on the old see-saw in the park that still stands today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe park is where we all gather these days as a family and have for as long as I can remember. Many of the sights and smells are the same, but many have also changed. Plants have been added around the creek where we fish nearly every year. The water dissipates some years and rises in others. There are always tadpoles, but fish are never a guarantee. The water is murky and surrounded by slimy rocks along the bank. My brother, nephews and cousins fished there when they were little and now their children and nephews too. I imagine my Dad did as well when he was a boy.

0429277134002The cemetery sounds like the wrong place for fond memories, but they are there as well. My grandparents, great aunts and uncles all reside in a better place these days, but the cemetery is a reminder of what made them who they were and why they will always be in our hearts. There are monuments to their love for each other, their families, and distant kin. These monuments tell us not only when they began and when life in this temporary home ended, but also gives a glimpse into what the years in between meant to them. My Daddy’s headstone is there, with just a beginning date. We know, but don’t want to believe there will ever be an ending date. In the mean time we soak up his stories that we’ve heard every year since I can remember and my children as well . We look forward to him sharing them with our grandchildren himself, but make mental notes and pictures for those not born soon enough to hear them first hand. Forever in my heart and mind will live my Daddy’s memories of his childhood in this small town, carrying his legacy into a future beyond his years, but not without his love and tears to carry them every step of the way.

The Home Where Our Hearts Live

wickershamI’m currently part of a group of teachers attending the Keller Literacy Institute through a project called Abydos, formerly known as the New Jersey Writing Project in Texas. I have to say, though the first day of training a week ago had us all wondering why we agreed to 12 days of this (8 of them in the summer), yesterday was awesome! The purpose is to learn writing and pre-writing strategies for getting our students to write more. Two of the writing sessions yesterday gave me great thoughts as well as time to put them on paper. Part of this came from one of those sessions.

When my family moved away from the house at 1717 Wickersham Drive after 10 years of our lives were lived there, my sister and I started this fight over which of us was going to move back there and raise our family first. Everything was and still is a competition for us. Needless to say, the neighborhood that raised us went down hill in the years that followed and neither of us went back to buy the house. I’ve taken my own children down the street and told stories about the fruitless Mulberry tree in the back yard where Uncle Darrell and his friend Robert used to sit for hours and play in its large branches that overlooked Robert’s yard next door. I’ve told them about playing in the creek down where the street used to end, and looked in awe at the new road and houses that are now sitting on that land. I’ve described the huge sand pile, not sand BOX, that took up one-fifth of our very large back yard and how they had to drive in from the then vacant lot behind to dump all that sand that once housed the white and blue monkey bars that broke my shoulder. We laughed and talked about my memories of the creek flooding and water coming in the back door of the kitchen as we planned where we would ride out the tornado they expect to be headed our way. I pointed out the spot where I fell on roller skates, breaking my wrist in two places, and how my sister ran to the door of my hospital room when I screamed as they pulled my arm back into place before casting it. I looked longingly at the houses where Ronni and Travis lived, as well as Donna and Stacy. We were always the best of friends and the worst of enemies in the same week. I will never forget the sound of my mother’s voice yelling “girls!” down the street when it was time for us to come in. I swear we could hear her inside the neighbor’s house 3 doors down. We weren’t rich and it wasn’t perfect, but we have great memories.

Until yesterday I hadn’t really thought much about that house or those memories in a long time. Ronni now lives in England, Travis in another part of Texas, and who knows where Donna and Stacy ended up. I remembered how I was so excited to finally get a room of my own and not share with my sister any more. Some days it was bad enough I had to drag her along to my friend’s house, I certainly didn’t want to share a room with her any longer. I must have been 8 or 10 at the time I moved into the once guest room, and it was all mine until we moved out after my parents divorce when I was 12. I remember the furniture from JC Penney, my mom’s favorite store. It was antiqued white with blue and yellow flowers painted on it. I remember laying on my big double bed staring out the front window of the house watching friends play on days that I was grounded. My sister’s room only had a view of the sand pile. Mine was so much better. My brother and I would each lay in the doorway of our rooms, which were across the hall from each other, when mom was taking a nap and we were supposed to be doing the same. We would play cards and dominos in the hallway, but still in our rooms where we belonged. My sister was down the hall around the corner, she couldn’t see us and would have to pass moms room to get to us. Just one more reason my room was better. My cat would come to my window at night when she wanted in, and even though I changed rooms, she knew where to find me. The best days where when I came home from school to find my grandmother and our house keeper, Paula, had cleaned my room and done the laundry. Is there anything greater than a fresh clean room with clean sheets, freshly made bed and laundry already put away in the drawers?

Until I finished this writing exercise yesterday I really thought my best memories were in MY room, but what I realized is that there were better ones around the corner down the hall. When I shared a room with my sister we jumped back and forth from one twin bed to the other until my sister fell and broke her arm one day. We played Barbie’s for hours in our Barbie dream house, pulling the string to take the elevator up and down again and again. When we were grounded to our room we had each other or we could watch others playing in the backyard sand pile though the window. I remember having a Raggedy Ann and Andy alarm clock that said “Andy, Andy please wake up! It’s time to wake our friend.” That was enough to wake me up, but my sister could sleep through a storm. I had to wake her up by jumping on her bed and throwing pillows on her. It was my sisterly duty of course. I remember her sleep walking into the closet one night and telling mom that she was in there because she needed to use the bathroom and I was in the other one. The funny thing was that I was sound asleep and no one was in the bathroom. I’m just glad someone woke her up before that one got ugly. I remember taking all of our toys out of the large green plastic frog toy box in our room so we could hide in it, as if all the toys on the floor were not a dead give away. I remember my Dad taking a white ceramic brush set with pink flowers painted on them that I received as a birthday gift and breaking one of them by slamming it on the bed to make my mom think he was spanking my sister. By the time it was all over, she was laughing and I was the one crying! That was my sisters strategy though, I was to blame for everything she did wrong as a child. She would hit me or take something from me, and because she was younger, she could start crying and make mom believe the opposite had happened. My mom would take the yard rake and sweep everything on the floor into a big pile when it was time to clean our room. Then we would take turns claiming nothing it that pile belonged to us. It was a long and painful process for my mother, I’m sure, but it was our room and one way or another we got it clean.

We were the kool-aid house on the block. Everyone came to our house to climb the trees, play in the sand or have a water balloon fight that eventually broke the window over the kitchen sink where we were filling up balloons to throw at our friends in the front yard. We, and by we I mean my brother, had a pool table and pinball machine in the garage. Of course us girls were not allowed the scratch the pool table, which to my brother meant, girls don’t touch it! We climbed on it and played under it instead. It was the least we could do, being the little sisters and all. My brother would have just as soon been an only child than to deal with the two of us. We were quite a pair. When we asked him questions about things his answer was always “so stupid little girls like you will ask questions.” No wonder my sister and I stuck together like twins. Back then, brothers were the worst! They chased you with craw dads, they didn’t let you play with their cool stuff and they called you stupid.

My sister and I have not always been the best of friends or even the best of sisters, but we have always leaned on the fact that we are family and will be there for each other when the going gets rough, no matter what. We formed that bond beginning the day she was born when I was just over two years old and we moved into the house at 1717 Wickersham Drive. That house, the neighbors, the streets, the creek and the memories were and always will be a part of who and what we are today; the good and the bad. It’s all there. Where we go from here is all up to us. Our memories keep us strong and our faith takes us forward, but that home will always be where our hearts live.

5 Minutes from the Heart: Grateful

grateful-heart Linking with www.lisajobaker.com for another sisterhood of writers who were surprised by motherhood and together work their way through the daily joys of raising a family. Today’s prompt is Grateful.

Start: 6:23 am
It can be so hard to be grateful when the world feels like it’s crashing in around you. Often we feel like everything is so wrong that there is nothing right in our lives, but what we have to remember is that Christ died for us so that we might have eternal life. He took on the weight of the world and our sin so that we might live a life we didn’t deserve to be given. So, today, be grateful for what you have even in the midst of all the chaos. Take time to thank God for the things that make your life worth living; the things that draw you closer to Him. He is our rock and our fortress. He is our comfort in times of trouble, and for that I am grateful today.

What are you grateful for? What gets you through the tough days that you don’t think you can make it another step? Who pulls you out of the trenches or better yet gets in there with you and helps you to dig your way out? When all else fails, when everyone seems to have their own agenda, who can you call upon for strength and comfort? God is good all the time, and for that I am grateful.

Stop: 6:28 am

Five Minute FridayLisa-Jo Baker

Hearty & Healthy: Day 10

1258400151_heart_health10 things I have learned in the last 10 days:

1. Almost EVERYTHING in a package or can has preservatives, coloring, and sweeteners that are not good for you.
2. If you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, it’s probably not good for you.
3. Real food doesn’t mean healthy food. You still have to watch your fat and calorie intake.
4. Food without preservatives, coloring, or bad for you sweeteners are difficult to find in a restaurant.
5. The safest place to eat is your own home. That’s the only place you can truly know what’s going into what you are putting into your mouth.
6. Most of the seasonings in my cabinet need to be thrown away and replaced with herb plants or real dried herbs and spices.
7. Every bottle of salad dressing in my refrigerator needs to go in the trash.
8. Even the foods marked healthy contain something that is not healthy, such as cane syrup, agave, or dextrose.
9. Almond milk has ingredients I cannot identify. I thought soy and almond milk were supposed to be better for you than cows milk, but they contain processed ingredients I cannot identify without a dictionary.
10. Even at Farmers Markets and whole foods stores, it is necessary to real labels and know your ingredients well.

10 things I have changed in the last 10 days:

1. I no longer buy microwave popcorn. I pop my own in a paper sack in the microwave.
2. Dried fruit, such as raisins, and nuts are my new best friends. They are my snack of choice.
3. We are eating at home more which not only keeps us healthier, but also helps our bank account.
4. We are eating more beans and enjoying them.
5. We have found a new replacement for rice which contains brown rice, red rice, wild rice and quinoa.
6. My husband is eating less and getting full faster when there is quinoa in the dish.
7. We are using greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise and sour cream.
8. I am making my own salad dressing.
9. I now purchase fresh and frozen rather than canned vegetables.
10. We are buying a blender for smoothies and to add more fruits and vegetables to our meals in a meaningful way.

Hearty & Healthy: Day 8

whole-grains-for-a-healthy-heartI have always believed and still do believe that weight loss and having a healthy relationship with food come from your mind, not your mouth. When I lost 60 pounds in 1999-2000, it was because I was in a good place emotionally that allowed me to begin to focus on myself physically. Unfortunately, being in a bad place emotionally over the next 5-6 years, I put back on that 60 and added even more to the total.

I did not make an extreme effort to lose weight again until 2011 when I was working with a now dear friend whose family was following an Atkins type of approach. My husband was just diagnosed with diabetes so it seemed like the right plan for us. I actually lost 30 pounds over a 6 month period. My husband lost 50 in the same time frame. Things were going great until we went to Las Vegas to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and completely blew it! We never looked back and began to put some of the weight back on. We both put on 15 pounds in just a few months.

One day, March 16, 2013, to be exact, I was just ready. My husbands doctor had suggested he try a program called http://www.myfitnesspal.com to act as a food diary to support his need for weight loss. I decided the moment he told me about it that I would try it out for myself. I have not stopped using the free app in over a year. Sure, there have been times that I have been a little more lax than others, but overall I know that I would not be where I am in my relationship with food if it were not for my fitness pal. It has a lot of the qualities of the Weight Watchers online program, but it’s free.

Since I started my weight-loss journey with Weight Watchers in 1998 I have lost and gained the same 30+ pounds multiple times. Everytime I got near a goal weight I would start to think that I needed to do something more. I needed to go an extra step. So, I looked into a Sugar Busters type of regiment; eating nothing with more than 3 grams of sugar was my goal. However, without other nutritional values in place, this was not a reasonable task.

What I find most effective for both weight-loss and health in the real foods approach is just that, I’m eating REAL food. I’m not searching the stores for just the right mix of sugar substitutes, protein and fiber. I’m just eating REAL food. It’s actually an exciting challenge to go into the store and find something new I had not thought of purchasing that’s a great whole grain or real food.

My daughters are even getting in on the fun. They are enjoying the better quality meals we are eating for dinner, except when I added Greek yogurt to their beloved chicken salad, and they are taking stronger steps toward eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. I have tried to instill in my children a healthy relationship with food, but not having one myself has made it challenging. Over the years we have adjusted our eating, at least at home, to a more and more healthy choices. Lower fats, less sugar, etc., but I believe this latest change to be the best one, and will set the tone for my grandchildren to live a healthier life and have a better relationship with food as well.

My husband, who is truly  a man who loves food, has eaten less on the nights I have added quinoa to the meal. He was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes in January of 2011. Once on Metforman to control his blood sugar, he quickly lost 50 pounds, but has put 10 of it back on over the last 3 years. He typically eats enough for three people for dinner every night, then finishes off a pound of peanuts in the shell after dinner. I never have left overs and he’s typically still hungry after all dinner is gone. It frustrates my daughter and I who purchase and cook dinner because he eats so much and leaves little for the rest of the family some nights. He told me that our dinner of chicken and asian vegetables with brown rice, red rice, wild rice and quinoa last week filled him up on the first plate! Wow. That’s definitely a positive a million times over. I will be making dinner with the Multi-grain medley much more often!

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5 Minutes from the Heart: Mess

img-thingLinking with http://www.lisajobaker.com for what she often calls a flash mob of writers who just need 5 minutes to get it on paper and share it with the world.

6:42 Start

So often it feels like our family is a mess, our children are a mess, our jobs are a mess. It’s like the moment things start to look like they are shaping up, there they go again strewn across the floor of your heart like someone came in and swiped their arm across your desk just to upset you. It can be difficult to be objective in times like these. It almost makes you want to be on the look out when things are good; wondering when the next wave will hit. What do you have for me next God?

Though, it’s really a beautiful mess when you think about it objectively. God balances our every day lives if we will let Him.  Even though at times it looks as if things are flying around, out of control, kicking and screaming, and pulling the paper off the walls of your plan for your life. God is still in control. He is orchestrating every kick, and every scratch. He knows which ones will affect us the most and ultimately turn us in a direction that will impact so many others who need His help, but don’t know how to accept it.

So, calm down and be the peace in that world of chaos where you are living. Stop trying to so hard to get out and move up that you miss the message in the mess that is now, right here trying to speak to your heart.

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