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Monday, September 16, 2013

Grandma's Cookies

Grandma’s kitchen always smelled of fresh baked cookies.  To get to my grandma’s house, we drove 300 miles up a steep hill and down dirt roads more like two tracks to a tiny little house in the woods.  When you pulled in the drive you knew what was waiting for you inside.  I remember vividly leaping from the car running to the porch, and knocking briefly to be greeted by Grandma and Shar, her German shepherd.  Her sing song voice would say “I missed you! I love you! Look at how you’ve grown!”  While she was hugging my parents I’d sneak over to the counter, where she’d have perfect sheets of newspaper lined with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies cooling.  I once asked why she cooled her cookies on newspaper she answered “Oh I don’t know dear, that’s just what I do”.   When I got a little older, my dad shared with me a secret.  Grandma left him a little cookie dough in a glass bowl covered in plastic wrap hidden in the back of the fridge.  When no one was paying attention (or when he felt brazen) he would grab a spoonful.  That was the real deal, chocolate chip cookie dough.  It was Grandma’s way to make dad feel special, and then in turn, his way to make me feel special by sneaking me away to share.
It wouldn’t take long and her kitchen would be filled with family, cookies, coffee and tea.  They would all visit until dark; I would hide under the table with Shar, the dog.   Her home smelled of chocolate, coffee, tea and rich with love.  The whole house roared with laughter and grew silent with goodbye hugs.  Her table always had enough room for everyone, whether it was just the two of us or chairs three deep.  Our favorite activity was to reach behind the table to the buffet and grab and handful of pictures out of the drawer.  We’d pass them around and tell stories about them.  When we had enough time, Grandma would set up the projector and look at slides projected on her white refrigerator. 

More cookies would be made if we were particularly hungry from that bowl of cookie dough stashed in the refrigerator.  More coffee and of course more stories and laughter.  My entire childhood is filled with memories of passing pictures and telling stories and eating chocolate chip cookies.  Oh she baked plenty of other things, but the chocolate chip cookies were magic.  They were tender yet gooey, sweet with a hint of something that no one could put their finger on.  Filled with grandma magic no one has ever been able to duplicate.  You must know that I have been working for years to duplicate her cookies even down to cooling them on newspaper.  I’m close but they don’t have Grandma Cassie magic.
There is something magic about someone special making food just for you.  It hits you deep down in your soul.  I knew my grandma loved me by the many ways she showed me.  However, this is the way it stuck, through food.   I think it has something to do with the sound of the beaters hitting the glass bowl and the smell of the flour and the sugar mixed with bible songs in the air that makes me want to bake and cook for my family to show love.  This weekend I worked on Grandma’s cookie recipe again for the memorial services of my Grandma’s brother in law, my Uncle Les.  They still never turn out anything like hers.  How lucky for Uncle Les, he’s probably having the real thing with Grandma right now. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Are YOU in someone's Hall of Fame?

My husband is my hero, and someone I most desire to be like.  He found his dream and his passion and he stays up nights, works insanely long hours and takes incredible risks to make his dream come true.  He lives his dream every day.  Sure, it’s hard and he puts his heart on the line quite often, but for him, it is worth it.  He is my hero because of it.  I’m truly amazed at what his accomplishments are and how fast they have come. 

My husband, Dennis, is into sports.  Mainly football and baseball, and he keeps in his head all the players and their statistics.  As a matter of fact, it is his job to know all the stats.  His dream was to start a podcast talking about fantasy sports to the masses.  So one day at the end of summer in 2010, he came to me and said, “What do you think if I built a recording studio in our home, I want to start podcasting.”  At that point I didn’t even know what a podcast was, (guess I was a little behind the times).  But I agreed and he bought a bunch of microphones and sound proofing.  Then off he went, creating podcasts and giving fantasy advice on the web.  Within the first few months he developed a significant following and had begun to book a repertoire of well admired sports guests and actors/comedians who love sports on his show.  By the next fall we were invited to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony as part of the media.  What an amazing first experience that turned out to be.  Since then, Dennis has worked with ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Radio, NFL Play 60 program, The Armed Forces Network and several other large Podcasting sites around the nation.  This all happened in three years…  That, to me, is amazing. 

Again this year we went to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and with our media credentials and were able to get close and personal with coaches, players, and the other media personnel there to celebrate the inductees and fifty years of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.   One theme that I found constantly was the humility that these gentlemen felt.  We were on hallowed ground in Canton, Ohio.  The men inducted were humbled and greatly honored to be chosen into “The Hall”.  There were many activities taking place throughout our time there however, the whole weekend was summed up in one magical night on the field of Fawcett Stadium.   We listened to the newly enshrines give their acceptance speeches.  These men were in awe of what has happened and they had many to thank.  They are football players, remember?  Not speech makers.  But they courageously and happily got on the stage and gave testimonies. These were not speeches, more like testimonies of hard work and dreams coming true.  They gave witnesses of many prayers of family members, broken bones and backyard ball games. 

The one that stood out above the rest for me was Hall of Fame enshrinee, Chris Carter former wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.   He spoke about his childhood and how he began in his career in football and told a joke then even an apology.  What was poignant about his speech was when he asked his mother to stand up.  He explained how much sacrifice she had done on behalf of him and his siblings.  How he knew it was hard for her while they were growing up.  It was now time for her to relax now because she, herself, was being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it was smooth sailing from here on out.  He went on to induct into the Hall of Fame his wife, his high school football coach, and the two people who showed him God and how to fight alcohol abuse.  The entire stadium was awe struck and filled with purpose. 
It took those people and thousands more to get him to where he is now.  Mr. Carter knew that.  He knew that everyone on the field and in the stands was part of his trip to the Hall of Fame and he recognized each one of those people in his speech and thanked them.

So the question begs…whose Hall of Fame are you in?  What have you done to encourage someone else dreams?  Or help a friend when they needed you?  You see, the types of Hall of Fames we see daily are not necessarily for Pro Football or Rock and Roll Hall of Fames.  They are for the “Best Diaper Changer” or “Hand Holder”.  I know there are people desperately looking for people to induct into their “Bring it in for a Hug Hall of Fame” or their “Shoulder to Lean On Hall of Fame”.  These Halls are just as important as any other induction if not more.  My husband is in my Hall of Fame for Hard Worker, loving husband, wonderful father...tell me those don't stack up against outstanding quarterback?

I walked out of Fawcett Stadium that summer evening not feeling like I could be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, let’s face it my spiral…well, doesn’t spiral, and my tackle doesn’t hardly motivate my husband to move.  It left me feeling inspired to find as many people as I could and give them a hand into their Hall of Fame, whatever it may be.  Let us all be more like Chris Carter’s family and friends and help each other through love and support and faith.  So that we all can achieve amazing unbelievable feats. If everyone had just one person encouraging them, think of how much confidence would be found. 
My challenge for you today is to find one person and tell them that you believe in them.  That they make a difference in your life and you know they have the ability to do what God is calling them to do.  Do it with the confidence that I know you have; because I know that God gave you; God is calling you for greatness.  You know what else?  I believe in you too.