Wednesday 10 November 2010

A NieNie or a Dooce . . .

Fortune brings to happy harbours
all whose sails are set right . . .
If a strong hand's on the wheel
and every gale is bravely met . . .

Dream your dream.
You'll be rewarded when
you watch with joy and pride . . .
the argosies you launched returning . . .
homeward on the evening tide.

There are two pages I like to read on the internet from time to time. I think most people would be familiar with the first one, The NieNie Dialogues. This page is written by a young woman named Stephanie Nielson. Wife to Mr Nielson, and mother to four, Stephanie is recovering from a near fatal plane crash where over 80% of her body was burned. She will live with pain and operations probably for the rest of her life . . . .

This is what she used to look like.

This is what she looks like now.

She is a beautiful woman . . . despite the scars that life has seen to heap upon her. When I visit her page, I always come away uplifted and inspired. Her spirit is immense and touching . . . and she is probably one of the finest examples of courage and faith that I have ever come across. She could be bitter and twisted. If anyone deserves to be . . . she does. She isn't.

This is the second page that I read from time to time. Dooce. This page is written by another young woman, probably around the same age as Stephanie, named Heather Armstrong. Wife to Mr Armstrong, mother to two little girls, and two pups, Heather struggles with depression from time to time, and specifically Post Natal Depression.

There is no doubt about it, Heather is a very beautiful woman to look at.

Everytime I visit her page though . . . I want to shake her. I think that's the only way to describe the way I feel when I read it. I don't know why I read it actually . . . except that it is compelling . . . probably in the way that one feels compelled to pick a scab . . . or yank on a loose tooth . . .

She has endured a battle of a different kind, mental illness. She is a woman who has been driven to the edge of mental instability and come back . . . a woman who has been given much . . . and yet she seems to take it all so for granted, and is so very irreverrent about everything that is good in life . . . who takes the love that God so freely offers and throws it back into His face, with an extra kick in the sand . . .

Two young women, both brought up in the church, both mothers and wives . . . daughters and friends . . . but with two completely different outlooks on life . . . both on completely opposite poles.

NieNie show us how life should be, can be and would be . . . if you choose to follow the Lord, our great exemplar . . . she shows us the joy that is there for each of us . . . despite any hardships that life might throw our way . . .

Dooce show us how empty life can be if you choose to turn away from the Lord . . . frantically searching for joy and never finding it . . . despite all the treasures that lay upon her doorstep, they are never quite enough. She always seems to be scrambling for more . . . never quite satisfied . . .

Let's face it, they will come . . . the hard times. They visit all of us. The difference lies in how we choose to meet them . . . the hard times . . . the challenges . . . the sorrows . . .

Do we allow them to tear us down and turn us into something we probably won't like when we look into the mirror? Or do we use them to help strengthen us and build us into the people that we have been sent here on earth to become . . . people we are proud to see when we look into the mirror . . . with souls that sparkle and shine???

A NieNie or a Dooce . . . hmmm . . . I have a great love and compassion for both these young women . . . but the choice seems rather simple to me, about who I'd rather be.

Here’s a lovely little budget minded and delicious quick supper for one of those nights this week when you have a lot on and not much time to spend preparing a supper for your family. We love this . . . ok, well, I love it. Todd tolerates it in his pasta hating way. It’s another one from my old blue binder . . . my youngest son used to call this maccanonie!

*Macaroni with Bacon Sauce*
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

This is one of those old fashioned dishes that just never go out of style. Economical and easy to put together, it uses ingredients I always have in my larder, and best of all, it’s delicious! It’s also a good way to get some vegetables into kids that balk at eating vegetables, I’ve never had one turn their nose up at this yet! I like to serve it with a salad and some crusty rolls for mopping up all the sauce. I make short work of all the mincing by using my food processor. It works a treat!

¼ pound of lean bacon, cut into 1 inch squares
3 medium carrots, peeled and finely minced
3 medium onions, peeled and finely minced
1 large green pepper, de-seeded and finely minced
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup of tomato paste
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1- 1 ½ cups of hot vegetable stock
1 pound of macaroni
Grated parmesan cheese*

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook, until it starts to crisp up a bit and the fat begins to run. Add all the vegetables, mushrooms and the garlic and cook, stirring from time to time, until quite tender. Drain off any fat, if present. Add the tomato paste, seasonings and enough of the hot vegetable stock just to make a sauce that is thick enough to coat the pasta, but not runny. Let simmer for about ten minutes.

In the meantime bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook your macaroni according to package directions. Drain well when done and stir the hot macaroni into the sauce, mixing well to coat. Let stand a few minutes before serving. Serve hot with a healthy dusting of grated parmesan cheese on top.

*Note: if you are not fond of Parmesan Cheese, a nice cheddar goes very well also.

Over in The English Kitchen today, Cheese and Onion Soup. Yummo!


  1. Love the maccanonie recipe ! funny though that a lot of men are not fond of Pasta it is same with my friends. Peter who would eat the plate at the end of any of any meal if he could, even he turns his nose up at the pasta....
    Hope you are have a good day today looks like it is a one day respite from the rain...but boy is it cold -1 at the moment...vest time once again !!
    love Sybil x

  2. Please Note, this is not meant to be a judgement of either young woman here. I love both these gals. It's meant merely as an observation about how two young women, with very similar backgrounds and upbringings, can end up dealing with life in to completely opposite ways.

  3. I wouldn't have dreamt that you ever WOULD sit in judgment on another person!

    Keith used to hate all sort of things: pasta, rice, coconut, nuts, pork chops>>>>>>PORK CHOPS?.......yep. It took him years to realise that it was only because his mum wasn't much of a cook. The only thing he just tolerates now is rice as a savoury thing. Macaroni always gets the thumbs up because the hole down the middle grabs lots of sauce.

  4. I suffer from major depression, however I choose NieNie's way!!Thanks for this post - it was a nice reminder of how my choices really make a difference :) I forget that sometimes!

  5. WOnderful post, my friend! Life is indeed what you choose to make it, isn't it?!

    You too, have had hard things come at you this last year...and you have come through it all so bravely and beautifully, and are an inspiration to me...and I'm sure to oh, so many others!

    I feel so blessed to know you, dear Marie...

    Hope your day is wonderful. Sending many loving hugs your way today...


  6. I remember that you mentioned NieNie on your blog before, but today I watched the video and went to her blog as well. She is truly an inspiration! I had to add another subscription to my google reader.

  7. Ah, but this is the problem with thinking what you read on the internet is what either of these women are like. People choose what to let you read, the truth is outside of your observation.

  8. This is true to a degree Azucar, but I think that the essence of who you really are always seeps through your words. You can't really hide the truth of your being.

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  11. You are quite right Azucar, I cannot truly know who these women really are because I have never met them nor spent time with them in person. I have been a keen reader of both of their pages for a number of years now though, and have been able to form an opinion on the differeent attitudes they each have chosen to present to the world, by the writings that they have chosen to publish to the world in their very public forums. My observation was not meant to be an attack on the person of either woman, but merely an observation based on the attitudes re life, presented to us by each of them. I only stated that I would rather have a NieNie overview of things rather than a Dooce. It's what works for me. I am no stranger to hardship myself. I am sorry if I offended you with my words, but I stand by them.

  12. Beautiful post.

    Thank you for sharing.


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