Monday, October 27, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Growing Gratitude

Gratitude is important. Spoken gratitude. It helps us name the gifts. It makes us recall the graces. It shows the giver that the gift was noticed. It deepens the love between giver and receiver. It reveals to others the goodness of the lover to the beloved.

God commands us to be thankful, and not just in our hearts. He can of course read our hearts, and yet He wants our words as well. We're supposed to meditate in our hearts in silence, and speak of His deeds in the congregation, and praise Him in the gates, and sing aloud to Him with our whole hearts, and remember His works of salvation, and tell His words to our children, and preach Him and His goodness to the Gentiles.

I'm thankful for this God.

I'm thankful for a God who loves me enough to give me sweet things, hard things, confusing things, rich things, simple things, funny things. I'm thankful for a God who gives to the body and the soul and the heart and the mind, who created and loved our emotions, and who takes us, silly and noble, strong and broken and stretching, who sees our smiles and rejoices in our laughter and listens to our complaining and hears our pleas, and loves to heal our bruises and bleeding places and the aches that no one else can see.

I'm thankful for beauty in this world, and the mixture of fullness and incompletion that it swells in me. For music you fall into, for fireworks you feel almost more than see, for sunrise through dew and under cloud, for a congregation taking bread and wine as one, for leaves spinning slowly golden on a million stems, for eyes that look straight back into yours, for hilltops in a wind that pulls you like arms. Beauty - for how it gives me dreams and lumps in my throat, how it makes me forget to breathe, and makes me at once want to capture it for the world and certain that no thing and no person could ever reproduce this feeling.

I'm thankful for home, and a home that is mine.
I'm thankful for Bible Gateway and Facebook and Google and my iphone that help me through slow lonely times at work.
I'm thankful for family members who love me unflaggingly.

I'm thankful for life and even for death. For Maria and Jon and the life they have together, and the life of baby Francis, and the life eternal where we trust we will see those loved ones God has pulled to Himself. I'm thankful for their strength and for how they handle their weaknesses in this season of their lives.

I'm thankful for love and belonging and future. For Fraser and our 15 months together, the growing and the strangeness and the words through tears and the most comfortable silences I have ever known; the unknown of next year and the known of earthly forever together; the hopes we form together and the meals we create for each other; the overlooking and the looking after, and the many many things we have in common and hold to together.

I'm thankful for this Giver, this God, this Father of lights.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lengthy AWESOME Recipe Post

Mostly the recipe is awesome. But maybe I am tired AND happy right now (a rare combination), and have had some spiked iced tea, and have eaten several servings of this dessert today and can't HELP being a little long-winded and braggarly (which isn't a word? Why isn't braggarly a word??)

Fresh Strawberry Streusel Tart
So I made this deliciousness that I think might even be better than a strawberry pie. Which is saying something, since strawberry pie is so epic. Why is it so epic? Well, because pie is my favorite dessert, I can make a pretty darn good crust with my Momma's recipe, and strawberries are the best fruit on earth. Logic.
But this tart. It has a lot going on, on the flavor, color, texture, and plain old fun-in-the making front.
Most of this is from The Joy of Cooking, but as I said, I used our family's pie crust tradition (which I think is actually super basic, yet somehow not used by everyone and definitely not used to perfection. Allow me this one bit of pride?), and I selected which of Julia Child's recipes to put together and how. If you have her/their book you can find most of this in pieces and with different berries, but if you have the INTERNET why not use MY recipe??
make your tart crust
which is actually pie crust in disguise
and if the measurements seem funny it's because this is actually for 1.5 crusts since I think a tart is better with its crust a bit thicker than pie crust tends to be. And because crust is AWESOME and so so tasty.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teas salt
-Add 1/3 PLUS 1/6 cup very cold lard or butter (I always advocate using half each for optimal flavor)
Chop, cut or break the fat into small pieces. Pastry blenders, people. My favorite kitchen tool, besides the knives. Speaking of knives, you CAN cut the fat in with two kitchen knives. I've done it when I was for a short time without my own pastry blender, but it takes patience and way too much time for most of us mortals. The butter or lard all needs to be pretty evenly broken up, but not so tiny there's no texture left there. Think pea-sized for the largest pieces, and some variations down from there. -Chop chop chop, and never think, Oh I can use my fingers to break it all up and get the fat incorporated into the flour, because while you CAN do that, you'll warm it up too much and it'll get melty and your crust will be tougher and you don't want that.
-Add cold water. Probably under 1/3 cup, but add it in splashes so you don't accidentally get too much and so that you work each bit of moisture in carefully (again, with the pastry blender) before adding more. Your dough will start pulling together, and sticking to the pastry blender in between the wires or blades or whatever those things are called that cut down through it. You want to stop (adding water AND cutting it in) when the crust dough can be pressed together gently and stay there. There might be still a bit of dryish crumbly stuff in the bottom of the bowl if you go to pick up all of it at once, but most of it will adhere to itself and you can make a lightly-formed bulgy ball of crust.
-Set the crust down for a moment, and spray an 8-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Then press the crust into the pan and up the sides. (The crust can also be rolled out with a rolling pin, but I think this method here leaves you with a slightly softer, more shortbread-like crust, which is nice.) You can flute or press with a fork the edge. Prick the crust a bunch of times with a fork.
-Brush the crust with egg yolk. Nope, not white. This adds flavor and color, and I'm not sure what else. But it's good.
-Bake about 15 minutes or until it looks slightly puffed. Don't need to bake until golden, as it'll bake with the filling in it.
While it bakes
make the filling.
3 cups fresh strawberries, thick sliced or just cut in half (or probably any other berry, and maybe any fruit? But I haven't tried any others so I cannot vouch for how they'll turn out here)
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
And make the streusel.
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp all purpose flour (or rice flour)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (whoops, I used salted, but it didn't destroy the recipe. It rarely does, that little extra bit of salt...)
Blend until crumbly.

1/2 teas cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional. But oh man, I'm pretty sure the nuts are why this turned out AMAZING instead of just SO GOOD. Please don't skip the nuts.)
Remove crust from oven. Lower oven temp to 350 degrees.
Spread the berry filling evenly into the hot crust.
Sprinkle the streusel on top of it.
Bake until the filling is all excited and bubbly and the nuts in the streusel on top are just browned, and the crust edges are golden.
Remove and cool.

*I have only eaten slices of this tart at room temperature with a glass of milk on the side, so I can't say definitely the best way to eat it, but I feel pretty certain a dollop of whipped cream or generous scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a happy addition to your bowl. Oh, and you'll want to use a bowl and spoon, especially the first day. It's a bit juicy. By the second day it's mostly gone, but what is left keeps its shape pretty well and can even (I have experimented here, this afternoon, for SCIENCE) be picked up in a narrow slice with the fingers. Dishes will be saved. Time will be saved. Deliciousness will be tasted. You will be happy in so many ways.

**In its favor, this is a rich dessert, which means it is heavenly and also that you can get by with a slightly smaller piece than you might expect, yet it's not terribly sweet (yay fresh berries! And yay not pouring in the sugar indescriminately!) so you don't feel gross after eating a little more than you had planned.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

This book. I can't say enough about it right now. I just finished it last night in bed, and may turn around and read it again this week.

I've read only a few things by Deitrich Bonhoeffer (mostly Life Together and his Prison Poems) and a little about him, but his faith impresses me deeper every time I come across him.

Life Together would make a fabulous Bible study book, personal devotional (about as close as I get to that is reading a couple pages or chapters in something late at night just before sleeping, when the words can sink into me as I drift off to sleep moments later), or I don't know, just something to give as a gift or read on a plane. So many encouraging words for how to deal as a Christian with other people. Encouraging and challenging and convicting and then encouraging again. The best kinds of teaching words. His style sometimes is a bit stifling, ancient, or preachy; but he IS preaching, and it I DID only say sometimes, and you can definitely get past that to find much good.

Often I think of books on this topic (the Christian life) only in the vein of Christian-to-Christian interaction, but while reading this I was struck by how much of it can be used in every area of life, even Christian-to-nonbeliever.

* * * * * 

"The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged... He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure." (from the chapter Community)

 "For Christians the beginning of the day should not be burdened and oppressed with besetting concerns for the day's work. At the threshold of the new day stands The Lord who made it." (from The Day With Others)

"Word plunges men into the world of things. The Christian steps out of the world of brotherly encounter into the world of impersonal things... an instrument in the hand of God for the purification of Christians from all self-centeredness and self-seeking. The work of the world can be done only where a person forgets himself, where he loses  himself in a cause, in reality, the task, the 'it.'" (The Day With Others)

"Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair. Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone." (The Day Alone)

"To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in His mercy." (The Day Alone)

"I can never know beforehand how God's image should appear in others. That image always manifests a completely new and unique form that comes solely from God's free and sovereign creation. To me the sight may seem strange, even ungodly. But God creates every man in the likeness of His Son, the Crucified. After all, even that image certainly looked strange and ungodly to me before I grasped it." (Ministry)

Saturday, September 13, 2014


I've been thinking about homemaking, and making a home. About making things homey, feeling at home, turning a house into a home. About whose job it is and who it is for and why we need homes and not just hotels a month at a time. About how I can study and improve here.

I can't stop thinking about that mysterious mixture of things that goes into a good home, or at least into the home I want us to have:

the mixture of relaxed and put together,
     welcoming and private,
     tidy and lived-in,
     classy and modern,
     projects that are like work and that like play,
     masculine and feminine,
     practical and decorative,
     old and new,
     strength and beauty,
     established and evolving,
     quiet and conversational,
     clean and yet not sterile-feeling,
and so many more things.

Tonight I'm thinking about whose job it is to manage these things. And I believe that the balance of these (sometimes seemingly opposite qualities) is achieved by both man and woman being involved in some way in the house.

The 'homemaker' probably makes us all think of the wife, and it's true that often, historically and in our circles, the woman of the house is responsible for much of this because she is there more hours of the day than her husband. And because most women have an eye for beauty; they enjoy the planning and buying and arranging and decorating and cooking and cleaning that make this place run in a lovely and functional way. If that is where your strengths lie and what your husband would like and what you are able to accomplish with joy, then splendid. And I might envy you your ability to do it all.

(rabbit painting by Terri Rice)

But what if you both work and you aren't home until pretty much supper time just like him? What if he works from home and has fewer demands on his time? What if he came into the relationship with a more complete set of furnishings, dishes, art, and linens? What if you are often so busy with the care of small children that you have no energy to finish the evening meal and do more than swish out the toilet with some bleach, let alone scrub the entire house every day, and who even cares about whether there is a nice looking arrangement on the side table or there is anything hung on that one empty wall in the living room? What if he has an eye for aesthetics that you don't, or what if it just exhausts you and stresses you out, but makes him happy to set things into place and make things attractive and give to you through cooking or doing the dishes every night or cleaning the bathroom or picking up pieces of art he comes across somewhere? Strong believers in gender roles tell us it is 'femmy' or gay for a man to care about the house. We hear (sometimes aloud, sometimes implied) that the woman who lets or asks her husband to do the interior decorating is failing in her job as keeper of the house. A woman who doesn't do 90% of everything in the home (and have it mostly done before her husband gets home from work) feels guilty for not doing her job completely enough. Even the woman who has an 8 to 5 job is often expected to carry a large portion, if not all, of the runnings of the household on her shoulders.

I love beautiful homes. Sometimes I even have ideas on how to go about making an empty wall look better, but usually I have to see something in a magazine or showroom or friend's house to spark my creativity. I love cooking and baking and presenting a meal. At least a couple of times a week I am inspired to do these things and most of the time I receive compliments on my work in the kitchen. I love to clean, and to inhabit a clean, clear space. But I am not perfect in these areas (in fact, I am trying to spur myself on to do a lot better in all of them!), and I am definitely not alone in these things. My husband is very attune to the aesthetics of a room, an outfit, a meal, a wall, a piece of music, a movie or book; and he is not only aware of when they are good or bad and willing to comment (which sometimes makes a detail-oriented person terribly annoying to a spouse trying hard and not being perfect). Fraser can *do* things about his tastes. Often better than I can, or with less hesitation than I do. He is the one who has had (progressively better) ideas for laying out the living room; he is the one who brought home the Renoir print that sits on our dresser; he measured and arranged and hung most of the pictures and mirrors on the walls; he cooks at least as much as I do, and reminds me often that he WANTS to do these things for or with me. And it's wonderful.

I realize that every couple is different, and that my husband is probably (if not almost certainly) more helpful and interested in arranging the living room, or making quiche or braised chicken, or dusting the house on Saturday while the game is on, than most husbands are. Not every man wants to be that involved. Some perhaps seem to not care at all. But I think that they should care, and should be involved with how their home serves its members and those who receive hospitality there, whatever level it may be for him.

Of course, a man who takes over completely the running of the home (whether he tells his wife her work is shoddy, re-does whatever she has thought of whenever she leaves the room, or just overturns her every spoken idea for what could be done in it) is doing his wife an unkindness and a disservice. And a woman who decorates and buys and plans and cooks without any regard for the wishes of her husband is likewise doing it wrong. Theirs will not be a happy home, because it is not a balanced home, and I think it will be obvious that there is an imbalance to those who visit. I've been in a few houses where I wonder HOW on earth a man would ever feel relaxed here because there are SO MANY ruffles and everything is floral and shades of pink and teacups sit on doilies everywhere you look and is there even a place he can set his shoes that won't look silly?

I think marking out our differences and our spheres of work or specialty is sometimes done too strongly, and our partnership and likenesses and friendship and co-ownership in all our things could be lived a little stronger. It is not the woman's domain to the exclusion of the man's comfort, expression, or participation.

God made us humans first, and a man and a woman are more alike (when you think of the whole creation) than they are different. Our roles are going to differ, and our jobs are often going to be very different - especially if there are children or she is home most of the day and he isn't. But we are first and foremost partners, not opposites, and our homes should show that about our persons and our relationship; that we have done this together (even if the collaboration is as simple as running ideas past one another and asking for input) and live here together.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

today's pics

Sometimes God loads us with benefits simply by placing lovely things around us for our eyes to enjoy.

This morning I had opportunity while at work to walk around a farm homesteaded in 1888. My iphone documented some of the things I stopped to look at, and these pictures remind me again how blessed I am to live on the Palouse, to have a job that takes me to such a lovely place, to have leisure occasionally (while working) to stroll around and enjoy myself, and for the gift of this memory-catcher camera.

 Built in 1911. Photographers are always stopping along the highway to get shots of this barn.

 On an old loading chute: the essential coffee can.

 Ok to be fair, this one was taken last week. Wheat and bachelor's buttons (I think).

 Globe of feathery silver.

 Where once was livestock.

 Also taken last week, but I couldn't resist posting. I don't know how people can say the Palouse is ugly.

 Fallen nest.

Shadow of the windmill.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Well. I don't keep up with this blog anymore. I likely won't ever be a regular blogger, but once in a while I need a place to spill what's been marinating in my mind, or a reason to put together some words about feelings that I haven't been able to properly organize yet, or I figure a couple of my sisters who read this will like to hear I'm still alive and happy.

Today is a fairly ordinary summer Sunday. Sleeping in happened; church, coffee and snacks after the service happened; and coming home and tidying a bit and putting together a little lunch has already happened; it's warm and I'm about to switch to a cooler outfit, but am a little too lazy to do so just now; there's a ball game on sort of in the background; we're having a small group of people over later for a meal, and Fraser has done a lot of the planning for that; a nap is extremely likely to happen in a while. Ordinary Sunday stuff.

Sometimes it's on these ordinary days, when it feels so normal to be here and do what I'm lucky to be able to do, when the blessings are so thick about me that there's not much dark or difficult to contrast them against, that I feel the need to give purposeful thanks.

There are always so many more gifts than we can name, but these moments are some recent things I am specifically glad God gave me.

* * *

1. Thursday at Great Grandma Lilly's funeral, standing there listening to my grandpa (her son) who is usually so spare of words honor her with a speech longer than most of us would have wanted to give on such a hot day in such an emotional moment.

2. Going in to the work office Friday, and receiving kind and sympathetic words of a friend from my boss, as well as encouraging and grateful words about my work.

3. Spending so much time in the late afternoon and evening in our room, just relaxing, whether reading, napping, talking, or watching TV shows on a laptop. Our room is ever-so-slightly cooler than the living room, and with the ceiling fan on, and the box fan in the window bringing in air from the shady side of the house, it is just about bearable on a 95-100 degree day.

4. Walking through Farmer's Market with my husband, that half-wandering, half-purposeful amble that says This is Saturday and we don't really have anything that needs doing, but maybe we'll buy some things. The well set up booths, the pompous music in the square and the random person strumming a guitar or playing off-key violin on a corner a block away, the toddlers sticky and hot in their strollers, the kids wading in the fountain and their mothers scolding them, the fluxing stream of people going by and around you, the sunglasses, short shorts, loose trailing dresses, the scents from the spanakopita booth and Patty's Kitchen Mexican booth and the burger booth, all the greens and leaves and shapes of vegetables, and all the handmade, homemade things from wooden bowls to pocketed aprons to goat milk soaps to deck chairs.

5. Driving through the swells and dips of the hills turning from green to gold.

6. Standing in a cold shower after a long day, a hard workout, and a lot of sweating.

7. Running the other evening, and turning around to head home, and suddenly being hit with the realization that I have a place and it is my favorite place to be; that I have a husband and he is my favorite person to be with. Mostly, I thought back to when I was single and ached for what I have now, when (all through my twenties, and a good bit of my teen years too) I would see a couple, and when they shared a glance, or playfully poked one another, or she leaned her head against his shoulder, or (most poignant for me) when he put his arm around her next to him, and the degree to which I ached with wanting and hoping and praying and wishing and despairing of that ever being me... suddenly so very thankful.

8. Looking out our west-facing windows most evenings and seeing the most beautiful sunsets against the old seed mill on the corner - sunsets obscured a little by the town and trees about us, but always still fabulous.

9. Pulling a load of laundry from the dryer that is mostly white and light-colored clothes that smells so fresh and ready to be worn tomorrow.

10. Sitting in church, having just received the bread and wine from the person next to me and passed them on down the row, that moment of partaking when a lot of other people are also partaking but the hymn is being carried on by those who have already taken and swallowed or those who are waiting for theirs, and the sound is like a beautiful wave that lifts you without a bit of your effort.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

poem and pictures: growth, sanctification, spring

                                                    Jefferson Street 2013: from the roof

                                                  Garfield Street 2012: by the driveway

                                                North of Moscow 2014: highway ditch gold

                                                Potlatch nursery 2014: geranium explosion

                                                      First Street 2014: first flowers

                               our home 2014: borrowed branches & a favorite chair


Why after spring,

after being quickened and taught to sing,

knowing He has taken our death and made us green and growing,

why would we go back to winter

so willingly,

and drop so soon our little leaves and stems and fine new fruit

with so much promise,

as if the sun had never shone upon us,

living water never washed our skin?

Why do we hide again our heads and bury deep our souls

in the killing frost of sin?

Friday, March 7, 2014

link to something lovely

I've been reading Jennifer's Trovato's blog this morning, and loving the photography by her and her husband, loving her words, loving her home as I see it portrayed there. Both Jen and Kenny used to live in Moscow and we attended the same little college - he was one of the funniest, most personable guys in my class, and she was one of the most beautiful and grace-filled girls in the class just below ours.
I just wanted to link to a fine post of hers from last month, and say that you should check out Horace & Mae, the Trovatos' photography work. Lovely stuff.

jt and the sea: our different sameness: February

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Year of Yes

A year ago today was one of the best days of my life.

Saturday afternoon. Winter and cold, with some sun occasionally breaking cloud cover. I was home, in the big house on Jefferson Street, and only 2 of my 8 roommates were there at the time, off in their rooms studying. The place was quiet. I had music playing from Spotify on my laptop on the kitchen counter and was putting together an apple pie, which we could eat that evening. Fraser had told me he was coming over in a while, and I was going to have this put in the oven before he came, or if I was still finishing it up he would keep me company and I would impress him with my cool kitchen skills (which is always fun, obviously, especially as we are both crazy about cooking and spent a lot of our dates in that kitchen putting meals together).

A knock came on the door, and it was him, but he seemed nervous and didn't even take his coat off. I kept working away for about a minute until I realized how agitated he was and right about then he said he 'was going to go for a walk' and did I want to come? Well duh.

After cooking, walks were possibly our favorite pastime together. Sometimes we had places to go; usually we just ended up places because we were going, or wound around neighborhoods, looking at houses and meeting lonely cats and speaking to them in the few French words we knew and speculating about history here and there and talking about stuff or just being quiet together. Walks are amazing. I still love them with him. Or anytime. But most with him.

This was the best walk ever, of course, although it started out nerve-wracking for both of us, and though we switched courses several times (not unusual, but rough for him because he couldn't decide where to go). At one point we decided we were going to this little park at the top of a hill, and I thought I saw a shortcut to it, so we took it. It wasn't. We ended up almost in someone's back yard, and it was muddy and messy.

We could have turned around and gone back down the hill and around the proper way, but that would have taken too long and so he made his proposal right there - near someone's house, in the mud, no fancy words but all the ones necessary. The sun had disappeared again. He didn't think of kneeling. I thought with the serious way he began he was about to tell me something horrific or devastating (are we breaking up? did he do something awful he's about to confess? did I???). I realized I had never heard his voice mean so much before. And I realized why his hands were in his pockets of his coat.

And I realized there was no way I would say no.

Eventually we ended up back home, holding hands and smiling so much. We kind of remembered the pie, but it was finished much later, and not eaten until the next day. The ring was sparkly and shiny and just dazzlingly pretty without being impractically ostentatious (he knows me), and I heard the story of how he got it and where the diamonds came from. I remember taking it off to start working on the pie crust again, and then realized I should call my family to tell them, and then remembered I had roommates home and wandering through the house to tell them my news and get hugs. That evening we drove a bunch of miles to join a bunch more of the roommates and friends at a campfire at the river, and made our announcement to them, and stared at fire and water and stars, and everything glimmered on the stones of that ring and everything was better than any best of my life before that day.

(engagement photos by Chris Walker,

Yes is a good word.
It is full of hope and promise
and joy and honesty.
It is full of grace.

And my year has been full of grace. It has held learning: learning to give and to forgive, learning to read someone else's history that is different from yours yet brought you to the same place, learning to receive with appreciation the gifts that are disguised and the ones that are difficult and the ones that are confusing as well as the ones that are just what I've been hoping for, learning to live a new life and also an ordinary life in a glad and diligent and purposeful way. Learning so much. And not being content to stop there, but learning that I/we have a lot more to learn.

My gratitude to and for this man grows, and I know it will continue to. God has made a beautiful thing of two things incomplete, and His hands are making us more to His pleasure as time goes by.

May the next 50 go as grace-filled as this first.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

on weakness

I hate being weak.

I like to feel like I'm the tough one who is unique in her do-it-myself-ness and farm-raised-muscle-ness and emotionally-not-needy-ness and easygoing-hard-to-offend-ness and show-me-once-and-I'll-do-it-perfectly-ness...

Truth be told, we are probably all like that in some way. We hate feeling helpless, feeling confused, feeling childish, feeling broken, feeling delicate and unable to handle the world and this life.

Lately I've been realizing that even though I might be able to do some things well, there are hundreds or thousands of millions of thing that I can't... and as I discover those things, feeling like I shrink in importance, interest, worth and even stature bit by bit. I hate feeling helpless. I hate not knowing something I should. I hate spilling and dropping things. I hate being in a conversation where I can't contribute something because it's over my head. I hate indecision, and tears, and worry. I hate not being able to think up something to do, or something to make. I hate feeling lost and asking for help, and admitting I was wrong, and realizing I will never be perfect, and realizing there are people closer to perfect in certain areas than I am. And I can get completely miserable dwelling on thoughts of my weakness.

And then sometimes I realize that I have been letting the unknown, the tiredness, the fear, the missing a turn or missing an appointment or missing someone and feeling lonely - that I have been letting those be bigger than me, by focusing on them and by letting them take over my thoughts.

But our God says He loves us even when we are small.
He says He loves us even when we are weak.
Because we are weak.
Because we are needy.
He comes and finds us because we are lost.
He says that in our brokenness He shows His power.

Joy in Him is our strength, and our identity, and our perfection, and our worth, not in these crumbling, broken bodies and souls, hurting and hurtful, losers and lost, trying and giving up.

It's ok if we are weak.
THAT we are weak. Because, you know, we always are in some way.

But His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Flavors. Dinner. Yum.

Lately I've been poking around on this site, Budget Bytes, by Beth. This is not because I know Beth (because I don't), and not because we need to save money (though beating the budget is always nice), but simply because I somehow got a link to it and have found so may delicious looking recipes there. Admittedly I have only made a couple of them. But I have been faithfully pinning them like a true Pinterester for future use, and wow, some are just phenomenal looking.

Last night I made Chicken and Pumpkin Soup. We had leftover chilis in adobo sauce from something fancy Fraser made earlier this week, and pumpkin from a Christmas pie, and one last pair of chicken breasts from a package, and there are always leftover parts of onions in the fridge and partial bags of frozen veggies in the freezer.

This is super easy. The recipe says it takes an hour and 5 minutes, and that's about right, while during that hour you definitely have some free time to toss together a salad or clean the kitchen floor - or both, as it happens I did, because I did ten minutes of prep work earlier in the afternoon just after finding the recipe. I get a little excited about putting together a tasty supper, especially when the husband has done most of the cooking for the last week and I'm needing to get my own creative juices flowing again before he takes over. :)

I changed a few things in the recipe, but not enough to affect the flavors that much. I used about 50% more chicken and 50% more pumpkin (which was a pumpkin and squash mix, actually, since I baked up a tiny decorative squash that's been sitting around here forever. The picture is of the beautiful steaming thing after pulling it out of the oven - sitting pretty next to the dutch oven we use the most, this perfect smallish soup-size orange one). I used that salty powdered cheap chicken boullion, but it tasted fine - didn't need to add any salt to the finished soup. Annnd I skipped the fresh cilantro, partly because my husband doesn't really care for it and mostly because we just didn't have any (because my husband doesn't care for it, ha), but put a pinch of dried cilantro in instead. This is a delicious soup. Filling. Colorful. Spicy (go with the 2 chilis she suggests, and maybe taste it and see if you want to add a bit more of the sauce too; it's really not too hot).

I put together a salad from another source, but I heavily edited it. It was a Mexican Salad with Honey Lime Dressing, and as such had corn and black beans in it (which I didn't want seeing as the soup already contained those), and also contained jicama, which is cool but would have necessitated me running to the grocery store. AND the recipe would have made too much for us. So here's what I did, for 2 good sized servings:

  4 or 5 leaves of lettuce
  a tomato
  tops of 2 green onions
  1/2 avocado
  1/4 bell pepper
  some feta cheese

And the dressing. You only need about 1/3 of the dressing this recipe makes for that little salad, so be judicious with your drizzling of the dressing. You never want to overdo salad dressing; just enough for flavor.

These two dishes went beautifully together (visually and gustatorially), and I kind of want to make the salad again when we have leftover soup this evening or tomorrow.

*Sidenote: this made a lot of soup. We put some of it in the freezer.