Have you ever pulled a plant up by its roots?
Underneath the soil the plant has sent out a intricate network of food-finders. These roots rummage through the dirt for water in time of drought. When strong winds come, the roots keep the plant anchored to the ground. Deep roots are essential to a healthy plant – the deeper and stronger the roots, the healthier the plant and the better it can withstand drought and rough weather.
We are just like those plants. We depend on our ‘roots’ to help us through. Whether it is severe sickness, mental illnesses, struggles at work or within our families, I think we all reach the point where reaching deep into ourselves proves to be not enough and we find we must reach deep into something else. As strong as we are, sometimes we are not enough. Not alone, anyways.
Our ability to handle those difficult times, which will come, depends on how deep our roots are.
So, where do we send our roots? I would argue that we must send them into the one thing stronger than ourselves – into our Savior, Jesus Christ. We strengthen our roots by frequently reading our scriptures, being thoughtful in our daily prayers.
Similar to roots which require time to grow, we cannot wait for the storms of life to hit before we send down our roots. They must already be deeply driven into the ground.
My kids love to play outside. Now that the weather has cooled down we are outside almost every day swinging, sliding and playing my eldest’s new favorite, Freeze Tag.
Do you remember playing that game? Remember running around, trying to tag each other, and freezing when you got caught.
Sometimes I wish I could freeze life as easily. I wish I could just tap my dirty dishes pile and poof! freeze it so it couldn’t get bigger. I wish I could tap my kids and poof! freeze them from getting hungry and needing to be fed . . . for the seventh time today.
Then again, if I could freeze all my work, what would I do? In all honesty, I can think of a dozen things I’d like to do if I could take a break from work. But the one that sits on the top, is playing with my kids. Few things are as fun, and nothing else is as important.
So, almost every day now that’s it’s cool, we go outside and swing, slide and play freeze tag. The dishes don’t stop piling up and the kids get hungry even faster from being outside, but for a moment I don’t worry about any of that. We just play.
As one who deals with depression, I’ve spend hours researching the topic. One thing I’ve learned is the importance of Vitamin D. This seems to be especially true for those who suffer from seasonal depression, or who’s depression seems to deepen during the winter months.
This is because our bodies make Vitamin D on their own, when our skin (uncovered by sunscreen) is exposed to the sun. The sun’s rays hit our skin, mix with the cholesterol naturally in our skin and change into a chemical our bodies can then alter to form Vitamin D.
If we were in Florida, along the beach in the middle of the summer in swim suits ( . . . I can see us now, and, dang!, we look hot . . .) it would only take us 10-15 minutes for our bodies to make enough Vitamin D to last us through the day. However, the further away from the equator and the closer to winter we get, the longer we have to stay out.
I wanted to bring this up this month, because our summer sun has faded and the sun’s rays are not as strong during these upcoming months. So, if you suffer from seasonal depression or you feel your depression worsening, try upping your Vitamin D.
Of course, Vitamin D from the sun is much better than the stuff you pull off the shelf at the store. But, I get it – it’s cold out there! So, try to get some sun on your skin if you can, but if not try a good Vitamin D supplement. Moreover, Vitamin D helps prevent getting sick – double benefits!
I’ve always thought of outer space as that thing ‘out there’. As though I wasn’t in it at all. However, the only thing separating me and that mystery called outer space is a thin layer of air molecules, the atmosphere. So, I guess, saying I’m not in space is a little like a child throwing a blanket over their head and saying they weren’t in the room. That, somehow, having the blanket between her and the rest of the room separates her so much so that she is no longer part of the room. When seen in that light, in a way, I guess I am in outer space after all.
So take heart all future astronauts. Space isn’t so far away after all.
The last notes of the evening’s recital hung in the air and then faded gently.
The room burst into clapping. Joseph had played his song so well. The trills were clear, the scales precise and the melody sung above the rest like the chime of bells. Julia was thrilled for Joseph, but a small part of her wished he hadn’t played quite so well. He was 15, only one year older than she was, yet he played far above her own level.
Julia’s mind floated back to each and every mistake she had made in her own song. She’d left out a flat at the beginning. Her own scale, simple compared to Joseph’s, she’d stumbled through. Half way through the song, Julia had even forgotten a measure and had to jump to the next section. Hopfully no one had noticed.
In one year’s time she would certainly still be leagues behind where Joseph was now. She wasn’t sure she would ever play with his confidence, and artistic expression.
Julia remained in her seat well after the recital had ended and everyone else was milling around the desert table, chatting. Her own parents always attended her recitals, but her father had been asked to make an important last minute business trip and her mother was in bed sick with a nasty version of the flu Julia had two weeks ago.
In the end, Julia’s uncle had been the one to bring her here, only he was more interested in the cookies and punch. Looking down, Julia noticed that her hands were gripping her music so tightly that her knuckles looked white, and she suddenly realized that her jaw was clamped tight.
Oh, this was ridiculous. It was just a dumb recital. She’d done dozens before. At least her parents hadn’t been here to hear all her mess-ups. They would have been be so embarrassed.
Julia’s vision blurred and she quickly blinked several times.
Hopefully, her uncle was ready to leave. She didn’t feel like staying to chat to the parents of all those kids younger than her who had done so much better. Walking towards her uncle she could make out what he was saying to one of the mothers.
“I’m always going to the symphony, and the opera.” His voice was deep and carried far. “I must say, after hearing professionals it was a little hard for me to sit through . . . well.” His lips curled upward. It was meant as a smile, but it made Julia’s stomach flip.
A hand rested lightly on her shoulder and Julia turned quickly. Joseph stood next to her, one hand in his pocket. His light brown hair curled around his head, emphasizing his light blue eyes.
Amazing musical skills and great looks. Life just wasn’t fair.
“You played really well, tonight.” He grinned as his hand dropped off Julia’s shoulder.
“Not that well,” she sighed.
Joseph glanced at his shoes and then back at her, “I thought it was nice.”
“Thanks,” she felt a small blush warm her cheeks. “But, it was nothing compared to your piece. That was seriously amazing.”
“I should hope so,” he rolled his eyes, “I’ve been working on that dumb thing long enough.”
She glanced back at her uncle trying to tune out his voice as he exaggerated the pain it caused him to listen to ‘certain music’. Nonetheless, her uncle’s voice carried clearly to her and Joseph.
“That, music?! Ha. You should hear Chicago’s Philharmonic. Now that’s music! I was visiting Chicago last year, and I knew I couldn’t miss the Philharmonic while there. I love music like that – real music.”
The warmth on Julia’s cheeks dropped to a chill and sunk slowly down into her chest.
She turned towards Joseph who was looking at her uncle. “I think I gotta go,” she said in a soft voice.
Joseph’s face slowly turned back towards her. His smile was gone. Instead his lips cut across his face in a straight line. “Your uncle, right?”
She just nodded.
“He’s not a musician is he.”
Her eyebrows dropped, “No. But, how did you know?”
“If he had been a real musician, he would have been able to hear and enjoy the music no matter how well or how poor any of us played. My guess is, he probably didn’t enjoy the philharmonic much more than he enjoyed our little recital anyway. He’s just talking big is all.”
“You think so?”
“Those who truly love music always look past the musician’s imperfections and will allow the music to resonate within themselves regardless.” He glanced away once more, “At least that’s what my dad is always saying. It helps me remember to focus on the heart of the music when I play, and not worry about the individual notes too much.”
“That’s cool.” Around my uncle, people were slowly moving away, forming other groups and starting other conversations. “My mom always says that negativity is the fastest way to push people away from you.”
Joseph let out a small chuckle, “I think your uncle is learning that one right now.”
I felt my mood lift as an idea struck. “Do you think if I invite my uncle in to explain the whole recital to my mother he might catch her flu?”
Joseph’s face lit up, “I don’t know. But I think it might be worth a try.”
Kids LOVE these chocolate suckers. Anything on a stick is awesome at that age, and then to add chocolate and sprinkles! Ha – those little kiddos didn’t know life could get so good.
Chocolate Christmas Tree Suckers
Melting chocolate – milk, dark or white, any will do
Sprinkles – or anything you’d like to see hanging on your trees
Paper and Markers
Using the marker, draw out a template on your paper. I did simple, tall triangles. These will help me make all my trees the same size and symmetrical. Next melt chocolate in either a microwave or a double-boiler and pour melted chocolate into a zip-loc bag.
Snip the tip off the corner of the bag, making a very small whole, and squeeze a line of chocolate out and down the center of one tree. Place stick on top of chocolate.
Starting at the top of the tree, squeeze more chocolate out to form your tree.
Add sprinkles! This is a great step for kids to get involved with – you can let them decorate their own trees or individualize each tree (peanuts for dad, pink sprinkles for little sister, and cranberries for grandma!) These make fantastic gifts, especially because they are so fast and easy – you can make dozens in hardly any time at all.
These chocolate suckers are great for any occasion. You could make pumpkins for Halloween (White chocolate, colored orange, and use M&Ms, and licorice to make Jack-O-Lantern eyes and mouths), or hearts for Valentines Day (with Red Hots or white pearl sprinkles). Seriously – you could make anything.
Of all the candies I have ever made – and I’ve made a lot – no other candy has received so many compliments. With a satisfying snap, this creamy white chocolate is filled with tantalizing peppermint.
Peppermint Bark Homemade Candy Bars
3 cups melting white chocolate
12 candy canes (one box)
Mini Loaf Pan
To make these delightful homemade ‘candy bars’, start by cutting pieces of wax paper to line the inside each opening of the loaf pan. Cut the paper to line the bottom of each opening, and still be long enough to continue up two of the sides. Later these wax papers will be used to pull chocolate up and out of the loaf pan.
Crush candy canes. This is best done in either a food processor or blender – crush candy canes until half powder, half small pieces.
Melt white chocolate. You can either microwave the chocolate on half power (a minute at first, then 30 seconds after that, stirring frequently), or place the chocolate in the top part of a double boiler (just be careful to NOT allow water to get into chocolate as it will ruin it.)
Once chocolate it fully melted, mix chocolate and peppermint cane together thoroughly.
Spoon melted chocolate with peppermint into loaf pan. Each ‘candy bar’ should be about 1/4 inch thick. Two small spoonfuls is usually about right. Once all are full, lift pan two inches above the counter top and drop to tap out any air bubbles and to smooth the top. Do this several times. Place pan in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes or until firm. Pull on wax paper to remove chocolate. Fold wax paper around chocolate, and then wrap in paper for an adorable gift!