Monday, May 10, 2010

So Grateful To Be Called "MOM"

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and one of the best days in my life as a Mom.  The four of us (Joe, myself, Sophia and Giovanni) began the day with church, and went on to a wonderful lunch filled with so many "I love yous" and "We couldn't be what we are without you"s, that I felt more loved and needed than I ever imagined possible.  This job, this blessing, this responsibility, this wonderment--all referring to "Motherhood", is the most abundant existence there is.  A heart has no limits when it comes to love, and when you look into the eyes of your child, the "you" as you used to know it, is changed forever.  Forever changed by the magic and innocence of a child, and the natural appreciation for this angelic soul that God has placed in your care.  My silent talks within my soul each day begin and end with "Thank you, Lord...I am so grateful that you found me worthy to be their Mother."

In Friday's mail, I found an appreciation letter from the Orange County Rescue Mission for our recent donation.  Along with that was a factual depiction of how overwhelmed their shelter is due to the hundreds of people losing their jobs and homes in this economic crisis.  So, April and May's collections will be again donated there to help our local families that are struggling.  We pray that our small monetary contributions will help even the tiniest bit to relieve someone's suffering.  I will continue "cooking to contribute" to this worthy cause.  I love a sign that I see a few times a week at Giovanni's sums it up perfectly:  "Here I am Lord...Use me!"

Just as I hoped and envisioned, my children are catching on to how necessary this giving aspect is. Sophia asked me yesterday, "Mama, remember those children that we saw at Village of Hope--the ones that were playing on the playground?" I replied with, "Yes, sweetheart, I sure do," to which she pleaded, "Mama, please tell me that they have a school to go to."  I assured her that the public school system makes sure that they get to attend school, and that her donations and clothes will help to feed those children and give them something to wear to school.  She nodded confidently and smiled once again as if she was proud...proud to help one in need. 

Here is a yummy recipe that the family enjoyed...again, anything with pasta is a sure hit.  This was simple and great as left-overs as well:

"Chicken and Prosciutto Pasta"
Non-stick cooking spray
6 oz. dried penne pasta (approx. 2 cups)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1/2 of a medium green sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
1/2 of a medium yellow sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 15-oz. container refrigerated marinara sauce
1 10-oz. container refrigerated Alfredo sauce
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Coat a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.  Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  Return to saucepan.
2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and garlic; cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Add prosciutto, sweet pepper strips, basil, and, capers.  Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and pepper is crisp-tender.  Add to pasta in saucepan; mix well.
3.  Layer half of the pasta mixture in prepared casserole.  Top with 1 cup of the marinara sauce.  Top with remaining pasta mixture, and the Alfredo sauce.  Drizzle with remaining marinara sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
4.  Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes or until heated through.  Makes 6 servings. 
--This recipe was from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications 2010  titled "Ultimate Chicken".

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Call For Action"

I was watching the Oprah Winfrey episode last Friday where she declared a "Call For Action" regarding distracting driving due to the use of cell phones.  Statistics state that texting or utilizing your cell phone while driving is equivalent to driving drunk--with a blood alcohol level two times above the normal.  That is shocking to say the least as drunk driving is such a horrible epidemic! 

Those of you that read my blog know how I believe that each and everyone of us can make a positive difference in the lives of others--Oprah has done so much of that for so many, over so many years...and hopefully she will have more accolades because of her drawing attention to this problem.

As my baby sister had to learn yesterday that her childhood friend died from a heroin overdose, I believe that a HUGE call for action is needed regarding substance addiciton in our youth population.  So many lives are shortened by this horrible epidemic and such pain and sorrow are left behind.  A mother and father should never have to bury their stomach clenches at how horrific that experience must be.  We have dear family friends that had to bury their son after the Taliban took him from the mountains in Afghanistan while fighting for our freedom here and abroad, and I will never forget the phone call informing me of that fact.  Every generation has their "Do you remember what you were doing when you found out about...?"  Well I believe that these tragedies, whether they be war-related or drug-related or health-related or catastrophic situations, are happening at far too rapid a speed.  Our youth are having their childhoods eradicated--so much is exposed to them at far too young an age thanks to the internet, and drug cartels.

I pray that the family of this twenty year old woman can find strength and some sort of peace someday.  Never will this tragedy be heart aches for them, and for any other family that has had to experience the loss of a loved one at much too young of an age.

Please appreciate life, and honor its fragility and preciousness.  We all need to be grateful for the time we have here and live with purpose. 

I suppose the message in today's blog is recognizing a needed "Call For Action" when it comes to someone sick with addiction or someone in need of obvious help.  I pray that courage will enter each and every heart if there is a time when it is needed--especially in order to intervene with something serious.  I pray that love and care will abound, and that there can be hope placed in the hearts of those who have lost it.

"Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark."--George Iles