Be-YOU-tiful

Perhaps the best way to say I’m back is to say you’re beautiful.

Yes you.

The you all beaten back and wind knocking the sails out of ‘ya beautiful.

The you that did the right thing….and then with one turn around did the thing you wished not.

The you that is learning how to let go and let God.

And there is no one in the whole entire universe like you.

And there never will be.

Did you know that no one can shine quite like you?

That without YOU no one can BE you.

That you take the breath away with his beauty?

And all this beauty because you’re His bride.

 

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When You Feel You Failed At Lent

Sometimes the journey of Lent isn’t wrapped up nice in a devotional with morning coffee.

Sometimes it’s about living it.

About allowing your knees to get bloodied as you crawl broken to the cross just as you are.

About realizing surrender is self denial.  That everything you can’t control is what makes Him in charge.

Because “earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.”

And that my friend is why we wait for Easter.

And why it’s OK when our Lent looks nothing like a neat packaged up meditational series of moments.  Perhaps those moments upon moments gasping for mercy….grasping for grace really are what journeying to the cross looks like.

A death to self…the reaching towards resurrection.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Thank you for your faithful readership and support!  This blog helps keep me going on dark days. Happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Jello

jell-o(Apologies for the pre-mature post.  I-pads do tricky things with fingers.  Just delete if you received earlier via email the uncompleted one, and here is the real deal…I promise. Happy New Year friend.)

Our dear friend, who’s more like an uncle really, was visiting over Christmas when in the middle of one of my fever-spike-melt-downs, help girl in her innocent ten year old voice turns to him and asks “any words of wisdom?.”

Any words of wisdom…anyone??

“Because we’re all clinging to jello right now” I wanted to scream! “And it’s not working out for us!”

And I feel we sort of all do this at New Years. We’re peering through the thick silence echoing our question and we wonder, is there more to cling to this year…than just jello? Will resolutions help? Or more discipline? Or the desire to really want a change?

I wish I had some flowery high in the sky answer that would end all pain and suffering. That would give brave and make a difference. But I’ve learned that in all my striving, there’s much I can’t control and at the end of the day an empty list leaves for an infinitely more guilty heart.

So I give you this. This the mantra of my year. The hope for each uncertain day. And I think you’ll agree it’s considerably better than jello. So let’s put our hope not in New Years resolutions, but in the God who makes all things new.

Relying on God has to begin all over again as if nothing had yet been done. ~C. S. Lewis

Taking Care of Mother (How Kombucha Changed My Life)

image(Reposting all because of a spelling error ugh!) Thanks for grace….

I had heard rumbles about this health drink called Kombucha and may or may not have tried to gulp it down before re-locating. But when we drug our tired weary selves into a new town and in one of my sicker moments I decided to try it at the local coffee shop.

And I felt better.

And it changed my life.

So began the hunt to make my own because $4 for a little bottle just wasn’t going to make it into the budget when I was downing a bottle a day and hubby wasn’t buying how much I thought this helped me heal and feel better.

So I found a friend who had a mother (aka scoby…symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and I began a life changing journey that I am passionate about. I will say it was frustrating and I almost gave up because there  are very few specific recipes for the second ferment on the web and what I was really craving was the effervescence that is in this fine drink. And I was discovering through failed attempt after attempt that it’s an art to get there.

So in an effort to make it easy for you, here are my tips and very basic recipes. Feel free to post questions and I will do my best to answer.

First you need to find a mother or scoby. Each batch makes a new mother so if you have a friend making Kombucha they will most likely be happy to get one off their hands. Also health food stores sell them as do websites. I like cultures for health as they are reputable and reasonable. There are also lots of good tips about Kombucha and other fermented products that are good for your body with probiotics and prebiotics etc. on their site.

To make your first ferment find a gallon glass jar (or you can half the recipe for a half gallon).

In a pot pour 4 cups of filtered water and 1 cup of sugar. Stir bringing to a boil on the stove.

Add your tea bags. You can have fun with this using white, green or black unflavored teas. It cannot be herbal or flavored tea as it will kill your mother. I like to use 6 black tea bags and 2 green. Turn off water and let tea steep until room temp.

Next pour your cooled sweet tea into the glass jar and add your starter Kombucha liquid that came with your scoby. For 1 gallon you should have 2 cups of starter.

Next add your filtered water until it almost reaches the top and place your mother in the tea. Cover the top with a towel that will allow the Kombucha to breathe but will keep out fruit flies.

Place out of direct light on your counter or in a cupboard and let it sit undisturbed.

Begin tasting your Kombucha day 5 with a straw that you slip down the side of your jar capping it with your finger to draw it out and sample it. When it starts to have a bit of effervescence and it no longer tastes like tea you know your ready. I’ve found it can take anywhere from 1 week to 3 before it is ready depending on the temperature of your home, how much bacteria is in your batch etc.

Next is the fun part! You can either drink the raw plain unflavored Kombucha as is or second ferment for more bubbles and an infused flavor.  I always second ferment and the two flavors that we have got down to a science are mint and ginger.

Ginger Kombucha (for each 24.5 oz bottle. I found these lemonade bottles at Harris Teeter and I LOVE how tight their seal is.  It really makes a difference on having extra bubbles. You can always buy plain bottles online too in any size.)

1 TBL peeled finely grated fresh ginger (I’ve tried blending it, using chunks but this seemed to work the best)

1 TBL sugar

Raw Kombucha (first ferment)

Stuff your tablespoon of ginger into each bottle. Using a plastic funnel (metal is supposed to hurt the good bacteria in the kombucha) add your tablespoon of sugar.  Taking your mother(s) out of your raw kombucha using your funnel pour from your gallon glass jar until it almost reaches the top of your bottle. Seal and lightly shake to mix sugar and place on your counter for 4-5 days without opening for best bubbles.  At the end of those 4-5 days place your bottle(s) in the fridge.  I found each gallon jar can make 4 24.5 oz bottles per batch.  That will leave you enough raw kombucha at the bottom of your jar to start your next round.

Mint Kombucha (for each 24.5 oz bottle)

1 large stem of mint (or 2 small)

1 TBL sugar

Follow the exact directions above for the ginger flavor. (My kids love this one!)

RULES TO ALWAYS FOLLOW

  • Always listen to mother, she rolls au naturel (never use antibacterial soaps on anything that will come in contact with kombucha, don’t use flavored or herbal teas, don’t use metal in any part of the process except for the brewing of the tea…although some people say stainless steel is fine I have stayed away from it all.)
  • The more the merrier: until it starts to ferment too quickly keep all your mothers in your new batches and just throw the ones out that are looking pretty ratty tatty.
  • Clean freak: always wash your hands (but not with antibacterial soap) before working with your kombucha.  Your mother is sensitive to bad bacteria.
  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty: get familiar with your scoby.  She doesn’t bite!  And she isn’t as gross as you may think.  It’s good to not be afraid to handle her with your hands as you put her in and out of the kombucha.
  • When you fail, try try again: if you let your first ferment kombucha go too long and it tastes too sour like vinegar.  DON’T TRY TO FIX IT.  Just dump out all but 2 cups of starter and begin again. There are lots of options for what people suggest to do with too sour kombucha on the web, but I have yet to go there.

 

Mom’s Apple Pie

Leaves tipped golden. Harvest wafting through the air. Hayrides, pumpkins, cups steamed full.

“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs” ‘I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”  Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

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And then there’s apple pie! Nothing like it in the world and this kitchen like my mother’s and her mother’s and her mother before cocooned in the smell of apples and cinnamon.

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APPLE CRUMB PIE

1 deep dish frozen pie crust

6-7 peeled and sliced apples (fairly thin slices) I like to use granny smith or a mix of different apples

1 TBL cinnamon

¾ cup sugar (brown or white works)

Mix together in bowl and place in pie shell. I like my apples to come up in a mound a few inches above the crust as they will shrink when baking

CRUMB TOPPING:

6 TBL butter cold and diced up

¾ cup flour

½ cup sugar

Crumble all ingredients in a bowl with your hand or in a food processor. The end consistency should be crumbly. Sprinkle on top of pie.

Place on a pizza stone and put in a 375 oven for 40-45 min. or until the juices begin to seep out of pie. It is NOT done until this happens even if the top is browning. You may need to turn the oven down if it is getting too brown before the juice runs.

PBJ’s and Ticks

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Because I don’t want to forget….

In the middle of a chat with little man about why we don’t really have to fear ticks (right now for some very odd reason they have become the greatest thing to fear around these parts) he pipes up: “I’m going to feed them ALL a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Then with a pause all wheels turning, “Mom do ticks like peanut butter and jelly?”

And with that our lesson was over…or should I say just beginning?

A Prayer As You Send Your Child Off For Testing

imageAs these ones we’ve born, we’ve carried and cried over and sung songs into the night to still their racing hearts; as they pick up pen and pencil, as the screen stares and questions emerge be their strength. Grace them with your presence.  May they collect all their thoughts in you, taking each one captive to the truth that they are more than the scores of a test. That character and praising lives and hearts won for you are what really matters. That it’s not performance that wins your love, because that road will only lead to bloody bruises and broken hearts with trying and failing again and again for perfection, but rather your grace that covers and completes and puts lives back together as all the pieces are laid before you. Remind them they are loved, more valuable than gold, that every hair on their head is numbered by the God who formed each intricate part of their precious bodies.  Give them courage to leap into the unknown because failure is just another opportunity for redemption and you are the God of second chances. Still their minds on you the Shepherd of all lost and weary and stumbling blind sheep.

From Fear to Faith

Lord when all would consume and shake this being to the core, give courage to move from fear to faith. In you I find safety; a quiet haven for this spirit to rest from struggling and striving and serving little mouths…and hands…and feet. With you I can breathe in, exhale out, bare my soul to its depths and know I am still loved.

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Your love covers warm like clouds blanket the sky and I am held tight in and through the unknown for nothing is hidden from your sight. Even as darkness comes you are the light that pierces bringing hope, the promise that you are still near.  And where you are, fear has no home.

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Friends, food and Chicken Tacos

chicken tacosSo I have a confession.  I collect recipes like my little man collects bugs and my girls collect bracelets and my husband collects books and there is something sacred in each one that has come from a friend.  Behind the ingredients and the set of directions there’s a memory of a meal shared, an event celebrated, or an offering given during a desperate plea for help and those who have come to the door with bags in hand and food brimmed high know the way to this girl’s heart. For each meal (and there are more in the past five years than I will ever be able to count) mattered. It blessed.  It covered tears and fears and pain with a warm blanket and said you are loved, you will be ok and yes this too shall pass because the worst is always over in 24 hours. And then we moved and left all those dear ones behind and each time I pull out a recipe I remember and I say a prayer that they will be blessed in return for the joy that was showered.

This girl doesn’t really feel at home though until there is that one meal, that one friend that says everything HE’S been saying all along. You are not alone in this trial, I am with you all the way. Tomorrow is coming.  This came in the form of dear April several months back who showed up at the door, me delirious from anesthesia and my family weary from nursing after the dreaded bronchoscopy and brought this and armfuls of love and prayers and well wishes…and brownies! (Never forget the brownies for they go great with this meal.)

I pulled out this recipe to make for the first time tonight and gave thanks in the shredding of meat and the pouring of sauce for new friends reminding us of old promises.  HE truly goes with us into new lands, into new spaces, new homes and always forever shows up.

This recipe is so delicious and incredibly easy.  It truly is a wonderful way to end a day’s sojourn or begin a new one whatever leg of the journey you may be on.

April’s Chicken Tacos

6 boneless skinless thighs (I used 6 bone-in chicken leg quarters because that’s what was in freezer and I pulled skin off before cooking)

2 cans tomatoes with green chilies (I used mild for the kids)

1 packet taco seasoning

Place all in the crock pot and cook on low until you can shred the meat (7-9 hours) or you can cook it like I did in a Dutch oven at 300 for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I then took out the chicken which was falling off the bone, stripped the meat and added it back to the pot.

Serve on your favorite taco skin with all the toppings you love. A chipotle ranch goes nicely with this as well. I can see turning these into amazing nachos or even a taco salad. Enjoy!