What is God to me?

I love National Public Radio.

Our local station is WHRV, and I listen to it most of the time. I especially love Morning Edition and BBC Newshour. In fact I also love the Cathy Lewis show, and Fresh Air. Okay, I love it all. There have been many times I have sat in my car in the driveway, or in the parking lot at work, and been late just so I can listen to a program. All the while thinking, “just a few more minutes”. I like listening to public radio because I feel smarter when I do.

I feel like I learn something new, or hear a different perspective than I had in my own head. I don’t always agree with everything I hear on the radio, but I always listen.
This morning was one of those mornings where I stayed in my car to hear the last few minutes of a broadcast. It was very interesting, and I heard someone speaking about something I had thought many times but had not put voice to. I heard a story about Eric Weiner and a book he wrote called “Man Seeks God”.

So it made me start thinking, “what is God to me?”

He talked about how he went to the emergency room at a hospital with abdominal pains and a nurse whispered in his ear, “have you found your God yet?” Being a person who works in the medical field I do find it a bit odd that she would say such a thing to a patient, but it was a good thing because it caused Eric to embark upon a quest. A quest to find his God.

In his book he talks about his journey through Islam, and Buddhism, and Christianity, and Judaism. He talks about the things he found and what it meant to him. I will probably buy his book and read it, but the whole topic hit really close to home for me. I mean, I am 47 already.

Have I found my God? I spent some time thinking about it.  I  talked to my clients about it, and my co-workers and my partner Karol. I asked myself what my religion is and I thought about my own spiritual journey.

I was raised Jewish, but we were a family who did not attend Temple. I did not have a Bat Mitzvah and cannot speak or read Hebrew. I do know the prayers and my parents always did the “big” holidays. We had a Passover Seder every year, and ate apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah. We fasted on Yom Kippur and had a dreidel box with presents in it at Hanukkah. It was next to the Christmas tree, but at least my parents taught me about my Jewish heritage.

When I grew up I had a roommate who was Mormon, and I married a man who was a Christian. I liked many of the things I learned in church, but could never quite wrap my head around the “only Christians get to Heaven” part. My parents were good people, but they did not believe in Jesus as their savior. Why did that make them unworthy? Why were only Christians the right ones? I never understood how they could be the only group that is “right”. To me it felt a bit elitist.

After I got divorced and fell in love with my partner I was looking for a church home for us and happened upon the Unitarian Universalist faith. That was a welcoming faith, and I love almost everything about it, but even there, I have some reservations about some aspects of it. I like some Buddhist beliefs, but can’t find my way to all of those either. I have studied some Wiccan beliefs and find those very interesting and comfortable also. When I came home today I asked my family what they believe their religion to be. My mother is an atheist, Karol said she was “raised Catholic”, but now says she “doesn’t know” what she “is”. The oldest son  also said he “doesn’t know”, the middle son said he is an atheist, and the youngest son said he is a “Jewnitarian”, (A Jewish Unitarian Universalist). So even my family is a hodge podge of religious beliefs.

So I guess there is no cookie cutter religion for me. I don’t think God is a man, yet I don’t think God is a woman either. I don’t think of gender when I think of God, I usually think of the universe, or an ethereal being of some kind without a body shape, just spirit. As Eric puts it I seem to have found an “IKEA God.” “Some assembly required,” he says. “[The] idea is that you can cobble together your sort of own personal religion, a sort of mixed tape of God.”

I liked that. It made sense to me, and somehow seemed to put the religious puzzle pieces in my brain into a cohesive unit. So I have decided that it is okay to be eclectic when dealing with religion. That you can take the pieces you like and that make sense to you and add it to the other things that make sense to you and stir it all together to make a wonderful spiritual soup that is palatable and I can live with on a daily basis!

Christmas Mayhem

What is it about this time of year? Why does it seem as though life becomes a whirlwind and our brains leave us temporarily? Please tell me I am not the only one who experiences this phenomenon. It seems as though as soon as daylight savings time hits, the days aren’t really 24 hours anymore, but only 15 or so. It feels as though instead of giving my kids sunlight at the bus stop in the morning, daylight savings time really just takes away some hours of my day.
Just the other day I was leaving class at 5:00 and I walked out and said (out loud unfortunately), “Oh, wow, it’s dark already.” When I went to school earlier that afternoon it was a bright sunny day. When I walked out just a few hours later it was dark. I felt as if seven hours had passed instead of only two!

So the days are shorter, the nights longer, but it seems like it is 8:00pm when it is only 6:00pm. Thank goodness Solstice is right around the corner so the days can start becoming longer again!!

Just to make matters worse, not only does it feel as though I have lost hours to my day where I could be being productive, driving anywhere during the holiday season takes twice as long! And if your business takes you anywhere near a shopping center you better just forget it buddy! You will be in long lines at lights forever. And while I am on this subject of driving, does anyone else feel as though people drive worse during the holidays? It is as if something takes over, and they forget ALL of the common sense or even common courtesy rules of driving. I am a defensive driver anyway, but boy howdy, during the holidays I feel as though I should be wearing a helmet and protective clothing inside my car! I have never figured that out. It is as if they are afraid if they don’t run the red light and get to the mall 30 seconds faster the good parking spot will be gone, or the item they are shopping for will suddenly disappear off the shelf.

For the past 4 years, I have sent my boys to their dad’s house for Christmas every year. I take them out of school the day school vacation starts and we travel to their dad’s during working hours. Their father lives three hours from us, so we meet halfway. We usually meet for the “trade off” around lunchtime so neither of us has to deal with rush hour traffic in the morning or evening. Since they visit their dad a few days before Christmas and stay until a couple of days after, I can just stay in and not drive much immediately preceding Christmas when all of the last minute shoppers are making a mad dash or the revelers are going to or coming from a party. I feel safer that way. Plus, since I don’t have to buy their presents until after Christmas, I get candy ½ price, and believe it or not the prices of many things go down the day after Christmas.

Our house does NOT look like this

But not this year.  NOOOO.  This year my boys want to go to their Dad’s house for New Year’s instead.  So I have to have all of my Christmas shopping done by Christmas Eve.  Candy, presents, the whole shebang.  AND I have to have everything wrapped Christmas Eve!  I am just not up for these early deadlines.  That is an entire week early for me.  I told the boys since they messed with my normal holiday flow, they only get ½ the amount of candy since I have to pay full price.

Hey don’t judge!  I have to have some standards.  To be honest, my boys always have a nice Christmas.  Bluebell and I do our best to get them some nice things without going overboard.  We have some traditions such as Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast, and ham and homemade yeast rolls for dinner.  Other than that we just hang out and enjoy time with family!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars (Diabetic friendly)

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a bit pudgy.  It has been a problem for me for most of my life, and I have fought with my weight even more since I had my two children.  I had so many friends having success on Weight Watchers that I decided to try it also. I was doing well, and had lost a few pounds, and then October happened.  October was rough.

Well, I am back on Weight watchers, as of December 01.  Bluebell is doing Weight Watchers also, and that will be so helpful to me. However, another thing I love to do besides Blogging, and playing World of Warcraft (yes I AM that girl), is baking.  Baking is not always what you should be doing when you are counting your points, so I am always on the lookout for amazing low sugar, low fat foods.  I recently posted my recipe for Diabetic Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake, which was a big hit.  So last night I was looking for something to bake and found a low sugar pumpkin bar recipe.  I found this recipe on a Group Recipe website.  It was easy to make, and the bars were really delicious.  They ended up being 4 WW points which is about 200 calories each.  If I substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil, it will take them down to 3 points! I will do that next time.

Diabetic Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

YUM!

1 Cup flour

1 Cup White whole wheat flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 15 oz can pumpkin

4 eggs slightly beaten

1/2 cup canola oil (You may substitute 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)

1/4 cup 1% milk

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly coat 13 x 9 x 1 baking pan with cooking spray.  In large bowl combine both flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  In a medium bowl combine the pumpkin, eggs, oil and milk.  Add the flour mixture and  1/3 cup of the chocolate chips to the pumpkin mixture and mix until just combined.  Spread it evenly in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips over the top. Bake at 350 for 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.  Cut into 18 bars.

Ingredients

Mix the dry ingredients into a bowl:

Mix Pumpkin, eggs, oil and milk:

Combine pumpkin mixture, dry ingredients and 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips:

Spread into prepared pan:

Bake, put on a plate and enjoy!!

YUM!