The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 16, 2013

Looking at some of life’s what ifs

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Do you dwell on the what ifs? Think about it.

What if Jim’s mother’s family had not come to America from Scotland? What if they had all stayed in Scotland and withstood the hardships there instead of coming to America, where they were faced with hardships of a different kind? What if they had not had that dream?

And what if my ancestors had not braved the turmoil of coming to this new land of Oklahoma/ Indian Territory? What if they had just been satisfied with things the way they were back East, and not come west on such an adventure?

What if Jim had not come to Pawnee to visit his parents that rainy Sunday afternoon when we met? What if his parents had lived across town instead of just around the corner from me?

What if it rains? What if it doesn’t rain? What if summer comes early? What if we have a late winter? What if we have global warming? What if we have tornadoes? What if earthquakes occur? What if we have heat waves? What if we have a hard winter? What if have a mild winter? There is little we can do about any of this.

What if we get sick? What if disaster strikes? What if we run out of money before we are through with this life? What if we are left alone? What if our government fails? What if we lose a war? What if we have war on our own soil? What if we cannot cope with all that is happening in our world? What if we become incapacitated?

Lately, I was faced with the problem of what to do if Jim did not come home from the hospital. Where would I live? Would I move to an apartment? Would I keep our present home and try to maintain it? How would I face the loneliness and take care of our ranch and business? Well, Jim did come home due to his great care, his will to live and determination, so why did I spend any time questioning the what ifs? Worry solves nothing and only makes things worse.

I got a lovely letter from our friend in Garber, who recently lost his wife of 60-some years and has a daughter who has been very ill. He reminded me of Romans 8:28: “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good, to those who love God.” Thank goodness we cannot see around the corners of our life so we can face obstacles one day at a time and adjust gradually.

People who are habitual worriers spend their valuable time making lists of things to worry about. If one thing occurs or does not occur, then it throws off their whole system of worry. Grandma and Mother used to remind us that 90 percent of the things we worry about never happen. The other 10 percent do happen, but what good did worry do? Isn’t it more comforting to spend our time thinking of possible solutions than possible disasters?

Some of us were just talking recently about how much better it is to not know what the future holds. Sure, we are concerned about what might happen, but if we knew what tomorrow would bring, we would be a lot more upset. Better to take each day as it comes. Today’s problems are sufficient for today. We can do little about the future except be prepared and act wisely. We just have to face every situation or problem as it occurs.

In all things, there is a thread of the Lord having a hand in what happens. I do believe His guidance is involved in everything. There are just too many circumstances that people cannot work out. I believe there are no coincidences ... only “God-instances.”

Therefore, we should spend our time thinking about what is rather than what if. We cannot do a thing about all the things that could have been different in our lives. We cannot look back and dwell on things that could or might have happened. All we have to work with is what actually is.

I am so grateful that our ancestors took the course of action that they took. I am so glad that Jim came into my life. I am so glad that I have that background and pioneer spirit to help me cope and deal with daily life. I am so glad that I have the faith and strength of character that my ancestors passed on to me.

My mother was one of those people who was prepared for any circumstance. If company dropped by unexpectedly, like all those homemakers of years ago, she dressed a chicken or two, whipped up a cobbler, peeled some potatoes and in no time had a feast fit for the finest company. I am afraid I am not that prepared (no chickens to dress, not a cellar full of canned fruits and vegetables, etc.) but I can whip up a fair meal out of our pantry. I fixed this the other evening when our plans abruptly changed, and Jim thought it was good enough to put in this column. (With an apology to my friend, Don, who thinks I put way too many chicken recipes in my column.)

Quick Chicken/Rotel Casserole

1 (13-ounce) can chicken breast

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 cups sharp shredded cheese

6 to 8 flour tortillas

Partially drain chicken and tomatoes. Mix chicken and tomatoes with soup and half of cheese. Alternately layer the soup mixture and tortillas in 8 by 8 casserole. Sprinkle with remainder of cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let set five minutes before serving. Good with refried beans and a crisp salad.

Don’t spend so much time worrying about what if, that there isn’t time to do something about what is. Think about it.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.