Notes From Sue’s Kitchen

Notes from my Kitchen by Sue Lau

Christmas Day

December 25, 2013

Washington Township Ohio

Year in Review

2013 has been a whirlwind of a year for me. Last January I wasn’t blogging at all. I had a blog but it had sat neglected for quite some time and had never really gotten off the ground. Oh, to be sure, I was cooking like mad and creating recipes as fast as I could eat them, but I still was attached at the umbilical to posting recipes at a couple of the large recipe sites out there in internet land. I’ve been doing that for over ten years, remaining involved off and on in a couple of the online cooking communities where I have made some great friends and (possibly!) even greater enemies.

I had some falling out with one of the sites and at that point decided it would be most prudent to tend my collection of recipes on my own, so I wouldn’t have to leave them behind anywhere. So Palatable Pastime was reborn and buzzing along at breakneck speed ever since.

I am amazed at all the support I am receiving from my readership, and at the diversity of places from which you all come. I had no idea. really.

It is enchanting to know how much you guys enjoy the recipes!

It’s a Wonderful Life?

Despite having the blog grow by leaps and bounds, this year truly has been a bit of a struggle for me.

I know I already kvetched about the apron ties being cut with the big recipe site where I did most all my posting.

Then Mom died suddenly.

It invariably happens to everyone sooner or later. But after a number of years of not being very close, we had become closer than ever. Now, I do live a great distance from my parents and birth family, and have for a number of years. Time had been taken from us when I moved away so long ago, and as it always seems, we thought we had so much more time.

Also this year I have been battling physical pain issues which could set me back, especially in the blogging world, for up to a week at a time. But my physical ailments are nothing new.

Later this year, though, misfortune has struck the rest of my family- one of my brothers has gone into end-stage renal failure and another brother lies in a hospital bed on a ventilator in serious condition, unaware of his surroundings, as we speak.

It has been hard for me to keep up with the blog at times despite numerous postings. I had a nice cookie feature that didn’t get finished. There were *supposed* to be twelve, but I hadn’t made it quite that far, having spent a week wracked with pain from back spasms and issues with my neck, which is degenerative.

I also had planned for you all a lovely Holiday Menu planner for Christmas and New Years that included a lovely blessing written by my minister, Randy Snyder.

By Such Tenuous Threads

This Christmas Eve, I managed to get my early set of holiday cooking finished and headed off to the uplifting spirituality of a late evening service at church. Of course, this meant speaking to Randy, who apologized for having written a piece too large for the card I wanted to display it on.

And there I was, not having managed to get it onto the blog at all. But I do want to share it with you. I know it is important to him, and it is important to me as well.

You see, as a Christian, I have come to believe that the Lord actually likes the idea of me doing the blog, and is helping me along in interesting ways, such as having religious organizations such as the Christian Science Monitor and the Latter Day Saints Living magazine feature some of my work.

I feel that anything I can do in return to kind of pay it forward for His blessings will only serve to please Him. And why is it so important for me to please God? Well, I have done so many things in this life to displease Him. You might think He would have had enough and tossed me out like yesterday’s garbage, but He did not. For that I am eternally grateful.

Which brings me to Christmas, which we began celebrating this past evening at the Christmas Eve service, as I said.

During the service, one of the things Randy mentioned was that how things in our lives can come to overshadow Christmas. I know this year certainly has for me, especially with my brother John in a hospital with death not out of the possibility. Randy said that sometimes we approach our holidays and kind of expect the mundane things to pull us together when in fact it is the Lord who pulls us together and saves us. He cited the example of the Queen Mary ship which did a lot of service in wartime. After it dry docked, one of the smokestacks was removed and placed on the dock, at which point it collapsed into dust. It seems the only thing that had been holding it together had been several coats of paint, such tenuous threads!

Sometimes the way the Lord gets His message across to me astonishes me. At that point sitting there, perhaps feeling sorry for myself about such a crappy year (and the word crappy is really tame for what I think of it), knowing that my mother was gone forever and my brother could follow her at any given moment, and…(wait for it)

The very last time my parents and I and my brother of which I speak were last together to visit, one of the things we did was to visit the Queen Mary. Now if that didn’t raise an eyebrow for you, understand that years have passed since that time, and that was the last time my parents ever saw him. I have become more like the mother my brother remembers, and I myself have a daughter and husband which he has never seen, and my daughter is older now that the time I last saw him.

Tenuous threads.

That my dysfunctional family has been apart for so many years, I do believe we still love each other, no matter how much time passed between us, no matter how thin the connection became.

I think in this world, it doesn’t matter how thin our connections become, if we still wish them, they will still be there.

Once upon a time, I denied God, and overnight as I believe the threads of time were passing me by, He paused and said “Wait! We have to go back and get Sue.” It didn’t matter to Him that I was seemingly beyond hope. That my thread had become so very very thin, much like that of Ebeneezer Scrooge in The Christmas Carol. I was still given a chance, albeit with a caveat: that I become like a little child. I had to learn to understand that God is my heavenly father, and at that, I will always be His child.

Which brings us to Randy’s blessing, that “Christmas is for Children of All ages who have accepted the greatest Gift of All!” That no matter how tenuous the thread, it will never be broken, that he will always come back for us, no child left behind, if a person will only accept His gift, which is His forgiveness of the world.

At Christmastide, Christians everywhere will celebrate the birth of Christ. Christ who came knowingly into a world He knew would turn on Him, to show us that no matter what we could imagine, it would never shake his love for us, never break that tenuous thread. And in so doing, the world has been saved, saved from damnation, saved from being left behind, saved from being alone, saved from being forgotten, however His salvation may play out in the end.

Secular people everywhere, I know, will ask for proof. But how does one really truly *prove* love for another? It cannot be done, It will always come down to being a matter of faith.

And it is our faith which keeps us alive, faith in ourselves, faith in others, faith that we as a species will not ultimately destroy the world. It might in fact be a proof in itself, because if we truly had zero faith, why would we have will to go on? What would be the point?

A Glimmer of Hope

The other day, while Bill has been spending some time at home for the holidays, we were trying to look for something to do. We live boring lives, really. We needed to run up to our barista and get some coffee before we ran out and became one-eyed beasts in the morning, growling at anything besides the mention of a hot cup of java. I don’t always drink coffee, but in cold weather like we are having, it is vital. Trust me. You don’t want to be in my path that day.  After that we were at a bit of a loss, so we decided to go browsing antiques, which I enjoy collecting. We’d already seen the local stores enough times, so decided to drive south for something new.

I enjoy my drives with Bill. It gives me a chance to relax, and also enjoy the views of the outdoors, and sometimes the almost religious type experiences of seeing nature in its glory, or something like a shaft of light shining through a cloud at sunset.

But this is Ohio in December, and for the most part, all the sky is going to be is a deathly gray pallor that holds more in common with the color of a dead body than a religious experience. So I am looking out the window, feeling my pity-party-pangs of late (of which I spoke), not seeing anything remotely uplifting so I just say out loud “I am not feeling you, Lord.” Bill thought I was talking to him and asked me about what I said, at which point I explained how overcast, downtrodden and gloomy the sky was and that if only I could see a shaft of light peek through the clouds I would feel uplifted. You remember what Randy said about people relying on holidays to lift them up (and in my case, the clouds needing to part)? For a moment I thought the sun just might peek through one of them.

Nope. Not where I was looking.

But then, to the south, across the horizon…I wish you had been there with me. From the east to the west, a whole line of sunshine peeked through, and the light fell like water from a massive waterfall, a vision of splendor that I had not seen in Ohio in…wait. I have never seen the sun play that way in Ohio.

God has a sense of humor.

And patience.

Where I should have been steadfast in my faith and it had faltered, as it does with so many, leaning on the sparkle of Christmas to make us happy, needing just a little more light in the sky to make us smile, sometimes God humors us and lets us have it our way. Lets us know that he does care. That even if things aren’t always our way, that sometimes things do work out.

All the while waiting for us to trust our hearts in Him.

So if you are someone who hasn’t trusted in God, and perhaps still is not ready to trust in Him, I want you to know that He hasn’t given up on you. He patiently waits for you to accept His Christmas gift. I don’t believe He will ever give up on us. I don’t believe it will ever be too late. He will pause and say “Wait! We have to go back and get them.”

His hand is outstretched.

In Celebration of the Day

As much as I would like to, I won’t have all my family here this Christmas to celebrate the gifts of the Lord this year.

My daughter is spending this holiday with her boyfriend’s family and will be by later in the week. We did get to spend Thanksgiving together!

My mother will not be here and my extended family is far away as well.

It will just be Bill and me having a small celebration of good things to eat, good times together, and love. Of course, I will share all the wonderful foods with you later on the blog. I already have a number of recipes I need to get posted! But Christmas is a time to be among family and friends that we can.

The New year is coming and with it, a lot of excitement building for Palatable Pastime. I have recipe ideas out the wazoo to share with you and just can’t wait to see how much you like them. It’s going to be a fun foodie filled year in 2014, one I hope is filled with Love, Happiness and Prosperity besides the usual good food.

From here in my little kitchen in southwest Ohio, I want to wish you the best in celebrating the loving gift of the Lord and sharing in His promise of peace. The new year can be nothing but good for us if we all keep His loving care close to our hearts and minds.

Peace-

~Sue Lau

A Palatable Pastime

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