My husband and I rang in the New Year with a real “Pop!” and “Snap!”, though not in the celebratory way that you might expect.
The Sunday before New Year’s Eve, my husband decided that it would be as good a time as ever to try to fix the slow drip we had in our bathroom sink, and so we both threw ourselves into the job, he as “plumber” and me as “assistant”.
The job itself was a struggle, and before we began, I had my own reservations about working on the project that day for some reason.
Call it a woman’s intuition…
It took almost all of the afternoon for us to get the job done, between running over to the local hardware store for a new faucet setup, to actually removing the old, horribly-rusted-underneath-it-all fixture; but finally, around six o’clock that evening, it was finished and beautiful, and in proper working order.
As I began the cleanup in the bathroom, my husband gathered up the old faucet parts and all of the tools that he used for his job, and got up to make his way into the back room in order to go through it and into the garage to put things away.
Suddenly, a deafening sound came from that back room that sounded like a stack of porcelain plates being thrown about, or dropping and hitting the hard floor all at once, followed by a horrific howling.
“Dear God, what happened?!”, I thought.
I ran to the back room to find my husband sprawled out on the floor next to the steps, shivering and writhing in acute pain; and my first thought, as I hadn’t been witness to what had actually happened, was that he had possibly broken his back slipping off those steps, as he couldn’t really move.
After quite a horrific while went by of him simply moaning and groaning in shear agony, and my just kneeling near him trying to carefully comfort him yet not knowing what to do (do we call 911?!), he finally was able to calm himself enough to figure out that it was specifically his leg that had been badly injured.
Thank God his back was OK, but the leg was hurt enough that he wasn’t able to move it at all at that point.
And after about 45 minutes, he just barely scooted his way on his backside to the living room where he slowly propped himself up in a big chair, and I quickly jumped into the car to go to the local CVS to purchase the last pair of crutches they had so that he could at least have an eventual means of mobility.
And so we rang in 2015 in a barely mobile state.
I have to share with you that, truly, these last three weeks have been such a reflective time for the both of us, each of us experiencing this painful physical, emotional and even spiritual “set-back” in our own unique ways.
My husband went from complete mobility to, during the first solid week, being able only to extremely slowly and painfully make his way to the bathroom, bedroom or living room chair on the crutches.
Work was missed for a week (which is never a good thing after the holidays), and work on the blog was also put on hold.
But those were just the more obvious things.
It was all the other little daily things that one doesn’t think much about that then became mine to handle, in addition to helping out my dear hubs.
While my husband would have his own hands full dealing with his physical pain and the emotional toll of suddenly not being able to participate in much of anything at all, I was handed an opportunity to experience servitude in all of its glory, and to see what I was made of in a situation like this.
I won’t lie and say that it was easy, especially for that first week or so; but this all brought me beautifully and humbly to my knees, asking for help and strength from the One who made me.
I remember having the realization that I could try to “white knuckle” my way through this challenging time (and frankly, I didn’t know how long it would last, since this was a very severe and long-healing sprain), but I knew that wouldn’t be enough to sustain me.
What I longed for was to experience this servitude joyfully, and I mean truly, genuinely, and completely. And I had a hunch it could be done. I wanted to taste that.
I became very honest in my prayer that I didn’t have the strength, and that I was struggling to maintain positivity. There were times when all of the combined tasks just seemed to much for me to handle.
So I asked for help in those areas, help in not only feeling a temporary ability to cope, but a solid, lasting change in my perspective, a desire to truly practice the golden rule of doing unto others as I would have done unto myself.
And it worked.
In these past several weeks, I have felt true joy and happiness wash over me, a peace, if you will, such that I have never experienced.
My energy has seemed boundless even when for all practical purposes it shouldn’t have been, and my desire for hope, healing and comfort for my husband has been so incredibly abundant.
I’ve always been a nurturer, but this has been an amazing experience in something much deeper, for me.
It’s not to say there aren’t moments for the both of us when we get a little discouraged at the slow process of healing, or when I feel drained and physically tired from my day and things get a little dour; but my husband and I have both chosen to move beyond it when it gets a like that.
We experience it, but then move on through it.
We’ve decided to actively turn to our Creator and to ask for the help and understanding, and meaning, and we are yet to have our requests turned down; and we continue to learn and to discover those little golden nuggets, the little lessons, in what we’re experiencing.
Both my hubby and I are grateful that he continues to heal, albeit very slowly and steadily, and that we’ve been able to, very carefully, get back to working on The Cozy Apron together.
Learning how to find true and deep joy in challenging experiences is divinely possible, and I found that out first hand in a way that I never had in the past.
I consciously asked for it, consciously desired it, and humbly brought to my Creator that which I had to offer up, and asked for His help in “making up the difference”.
And He joyfully did.
Serving another with joy and with genuine love is like a soothing and comforting soup; it warms from within, and it nourishes and heals both parties involved: the one receiving it, as well as the one giving it.
I’m grateful for this opportunity, for this challenging and difficult experience, because it gave me a new perspective on what it means to serve with joy and love.
I also found that I never have to go it alone, never have to “white knuckle” it, when I bring my empty little bowl to my Creator to have it filled with some good soup that’ll nourish and strengthen from within.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Italian Meatball Minestrone Soup with White Beans
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 6
• 1 pound ground beef (85/15 ratio)
• 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs (about a 2 ounce French roll, processed in food processor)
• 2 small garlic cloves (or 1 large), pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 1 egg
• 2 tablespoons milk
• Olive oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 3 carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 ribs celery, diced
• 1 large zucchini, diced
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
• 1 teaspoon dry oregano
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• Pinch salt
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 3 large cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 (3 ounce) can tomato paste
• 5 cups beef stock, hot
• 1 (15 ounce) can navy beans (or other small white beans), drained and rinsed
• Parmesan rind chunk (optional)
• 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 tablespoon chopped basil
• 1 ½ cups cooked ditalini pasta (or small elbow pasta)
• Grated parmesan, for garnish
-Prepare your meatballs by adding the ground beef to a large bowl; to the beef add all of the rest of the meatball ingredients, and using your hands, mix the mixture until well combined.
-Portion out about ½ ounce meatballs, and roll; chill meatballs for about 15 minutes.
-Once the meatballs have chilled, place a large soup pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil; once the oil is hot, add in about half of the meatballs, and brown them on all sides for about 2 minutes; using a slotted spoon, remove the browned meatballs and then repeat with the remaining meatballs; set all of the browned meatballs aside for a moment.
-Into that same pot drizzle in a bit more oil if needed, and add in the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute those for about 3-4 minutes, or until they start to become slightly tender.
-Add in the zucchini, along with the Italian seasoning, dry oregano, black pepper, pinch of salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic, and stir to combine.
-Once the garlic becomes aromatic, add in the tomato paste, and cook that for about 30-45 seconds, just to cook out the raw flavor.
-Next, add back into the pot the browned meatballs, along with the white beans and the beef stock, and stir to combine; add in the parmesan rind chunk (if using), and cover the soup partially with a lid; bring the soup up to a rolling simmer, then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer the soup for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-After 25 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the parmesan rind, if using; add in the spinach leaves, parsley, and basil, and stir; check the seasoning to see if any additional salt/pepper if needed.
-To serve, add some of the cooked pasta to a bowl, and ladle the soup over top; garnish with grated parmesan, if desired.