Celebrating Thanksgiving ~ and purposing to enjoy it solo

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The fun of adding pumpkins, Pilgrim figurines, and a harvest angel to my baker’s rack. Oh, yeah, and a pesky cat got into the shot.

When Joseph was alive I prepared a huge Thanksgiving feast for family and a friend or two. I was known for my super moist turkey, and it was so simple. I’ll let you in on the secret. I got it years ago from Cooking Light magazine. You mix equal parts of maple syrup and unsweetened jarred apple sauce and smother the bird in it. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it. But the whole mess, and it is a mess, cooks away and you have an apple/maple glaze and a really moist and tender bird. I always cooked my bird at 325 degrees and it’s really good to use a meat thermometer to know when it’s done. Nothing is worse than eating raw poultry. I made the a traditional giblet stuffing recipe from the back of the stuffing package and added chopped dates and chopped, peeled apples and stuffed the bird. Of course, you also have to bake a pan of it, and the trick there is to pour broth over it so it’s not dry. I can’t give a recipe because I don’t cook with recipes, as a rule. I’ve spent years enjoying myself pouring over cookbooks, especially holiday cookbooks, trying different “tricks of the trade” my mother, grandmother, or a friend passed along. It got to where I cooked by eye and by taste. Yes, you have to keep a teaspoon or two or three at the stove to taste or you can get in real trouble. Add a little spice, butter, whatever, then taste. You can always add more but you can’t take out.

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My mantle and another pesky cat. She’s annoyed because I disturbed her nap.

So, now it’s just me, Sophie the Wonder Dog, and as as Sophie refers to them, “those pesky cats.” About six months ago, a series of circumstances occurred and it hit me like a tidal wave that I was basically alone on this planet. And yes, I stewed and whined about it. If you know me at all, if I didn’t admit to whining, you’d know I wasn’t telling the truth.

Of course, it goes without saying, so I almost didn’t say it.,,I have God. I have Jesus. And of course, I have friends and associates. However, as I get up in years, I find that my friends have issues they are dealing with, some excruciatingly serious. So, I really do have to exercise my “spiritual chops” and lean in to God, follow Him, rely on Him, and seek His face.

One thing I keep hearing Him say in a variety of ways is, “Live life. You are fearfully and wondrously made. Don’t stop celebrating life.” I recently heard Joyce Meyer say on a broadcast that we humans are the closest things to God. We have been made in His image and likeness. And we should act like it. We have to choose to do that. It’s a decision we have to make and sometimes re-make.

So, I’ve been invited to a huge southern family Thanksgiving Day dinner in central Florida. I’ve been informed (forewarned maybe) that it will be an experience. Looks like God has a new delight in store for me.

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My mantle at night. Now I’m anticipating decorating for Christmas!!!

 

Deep Emotional Pain ~ can create soul wounds

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Intense emotional pain often isolates us. In our society today , which demands an absence of paint and a totally unrealistic demand for ‘safe spaces’, we might not even want to admit our pain to others. Some respond with anger as a way of fending off pain they feel entitled not to have. Both of these responses isolate us from others.

I’m a seasoned citizen and at my ripe, and I hope, discerning age, I’ve met people who have had real emotional wounds inflicted on them by others. They’ve been sexually abused, which is akin to murder of the psyche, except the victim must go on living. They grew up in a home with an abusive alcoholic or drug addict who destroyed everything that was meaningful and good in the family. A parent, or parents abandoned them when they were young. They or a loved one was severely physically injured by the actions of another; or a loved one was murdered or committed suicide. These types of situations cause real, deep emotional pain and often result in lasting soul wounds…damage to the psyche. And, of course, there are other situations, just as emotionally devastating.

I’m talking here to people with real, obvious, deep emotional pain. It is plain to see the world is corrupted by sin. Even the nonreligious will admit this. Jesus said that we would have suffering int this life, in this world.

 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 [NASB]

Over the years, I’ve talked to folks who have had real, deep emotional pain inflicted upon them by others or by life situations. They’re pain is very real. The inciting incident was not imaginary. It did happen. Their family member was maimed or killed by a drunk driver. Their husband did cheat on them and remove all funds from their joint account before filing for divorce. Yes, the pain is very real. But, what I’ve learned is that way down at the bottom of it, shame is attached. People think: if I had been worthy I wouldn’t have been put up for adoption; there was something flawed about me that made him sexually abuse me and in fact he told me exactly that over-and-over.

This attached shame prevents the injured one from sharing with others, or even if they do share intellectually, on an emotional level they continue to condemn themselves. This self-condemnation is a killer. It binds people in heavy emotional chains. What is needed, in my humble opinion, is a total transformation of the mind away from condemnation. Self-condemnation and condemnation of others is a soul killer. No matter who you condemn, yourself or others, you’re destroying your own soul’s health and destroying joy.

As a Christian, I turn to some of the great Christian teachers when I feel a case of self-condemnation or condemnation of others coming on. And I do, and have had cases of self-condemnation or condemnation of others. Of course I have. I’m human. At those times, I click away on my TV remote until I land on a Christian show featuring the teachings of Joyce Meyers, T.D. Jakes, Paul Daughtery, and many others. I personally find a good word for healing there.

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What brought this article on was the passing, three weeks before Christmas, of my husband Joseph D. Chillemi. I, in my human limited mentality, thought this would be the worst Christmas ever. But the whisper of the spirit of Christmas, gently wrapped around me as if I were in swaddling clothes and kept me safe as a baby. It was Jesus,  coming to me as the baby Jesus, who I encountered…as hope, light, love. So, yes, I was in a state of deep soul searing pain, and yet, Christmas was all about love and joy for me. This year, I learned how the spirit of the Christmas season so often touches nonChristians. How is that possible I would experience this when in deep mourning? I have to chuckle here, because my God can do for His people two or more things at once. [a wee jest there] He invented multitasking.

And so, the Lord had me write this article about deep pain as a way to honor my husband.

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Joseph D. Chillemi; July 30, 1951 – December 8, 2016; husband, father, son, friend, social worker

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