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Rejection

March 28, 2015

Years ago I lived in a beautiful, far away land and I had a roommate named Clara. Clara is Korean but she speaks Australian. It is seriously the coolest thing. Now she lives in Canada and we have spent time together on three continents in our years of friendship. I learned a lot from her- how to do a Tim Tam Slam, that I don’t like Vegemite, and how to shop underground in Seoul. We only lived together in that place for one year, but it felt more like five. Remember college or summer camp? Can you even believe how much happens in a college semester? You can fall deeply in love and have a devastating break up all in one semester.   Well, it was sorta like that because we were young and because there were a bunch of us who came together in one place for a time to do a job. I actually lived in 3 different apartments that one year and it didn’t even seem ridiculous.

In the spring of that year I experienced a season where I felt really rejected. I had just been broken up with (your classic rejection tale) and I wasn’t handling it very well. Like really not well. Like Clara deserves a medal for being my friend during this time not well.   (Many good things came out of that season but one is that I have enduring patience for any friend going through a break-up. All I do is think back to Clara and I have to be patient!)

I don’t remember any of the exact words Clara said to me that spring, but I remember what I took away. We read a lot of scripture together and because it was in the Lenten season we looked at Jesus’ last days and the rejection he endured. He was not just rejected by the crowd; he was rejected by those closest to him. His three closest friends couldn’t even stay awake and pray with him in his last hours. And Mark 14:50 says about his final hours, “Then everyone deserted him and fled.”

Jesus was rejected and betrayed in a way that I will never experience. So, he is familiar with my suffering. He is with me in this. He was rejected, abused, deserted, and betrayed for me so that I could feel loved and held by him in my moments.

Clara showed me how to walk through suffering. She didn’t ramble off trite platitudes. She didn’t offer escape. She did not reject me because I wasn’t my charming, fun self.  She sat with me in the hard moment and she connected me with the suffering of Jesus through which I am made whole again.

Here I am years later in another Lenten season and it turns out that was just good practice- because life on this earth can continue to bring on feelings of rejection. But, I am not rejected; I am chosen, redeemed, loved. And in those moments where the rejection and loss feel so real I know I have a Savior who has endured all for me.

Today is Clara’s birthday and 13 years have passed since that spring. (Gosh, I feel old. We must have been in middle school when we were roommates.) Yet, I still feel like another thank you is in order for the suffering she endured with a dramatic, post break-up roommate! You are a saint, Clara. Happy birthday!

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Silence

September 11, 2014

Silence. I need silence.

I feel like you could sum up what I said today with: “SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSH!”

Stop tapping. Stop talking. Stop moving in your chair. Stop coughing. (I know, they can’t help it.) And for the love, STOP TAPPING YOUR PENCIL!

Really, it’s not their fault. But, my life has just been too noisy lately. I started feeling this angst rise up in me this week and I got grumpy about all the noise and activity. Not just with students but throughout all the days, all the weeks. Too much.

And the angst turned to fretting….about life, love and other mysteries. (Point of Grace. Can I get a witness?)

And then I read this:

DO NOT FRET.

Twice. Two verses in a row.

Psalm 37: 7-8

Do not fret… Do not fret – it only leads to evil.

If evil is being impatient and self-centered, then yes, it does, as a matter of fact.

The antidote?

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” (verse 7)

When I read that I just started crumble. What a beautiful command: Don’t fret, be still.

I am invited into rest. Commanded to rest – no worry, no fretting, no anxiety, no pressure. And yet so many days I don’t.

But, as soon as I will take a minute to sit and even just stare at the tree outside my back window I begin to heal. Sometimes it just takes a minute – a minute of still and quiet and staring. And sometimes it takes days, weeks. But, I know rest is available and I’m committed to finding it because I know He has offered. And I don’t want to wait for the weekend. I want each day punctuated with rest and peace, not anxiety and angst.

When I opened up a book by Mother Teresa today and read about the importance of silence, I felt validated in all this need for silence. Because, I mean, Mother Teresa. Hello.

With that I will hush and leave you with this…

“In the silence of the heart God speaks…then you will know you are nothing…It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with himself…silence gives us a new outlook on everything…we need silence to be able to touch souls.”

In the middle

August 14, 2014

I live in the middle of a neighborhood, in the middle of the city, within walking distance to a grocery store. And yet from where I sit on my back porch I can see only one house, if I crank my neck. I see only a rolling hill leading down to a creek and a wooded area so thick and lush and textured. I hear only the sounds of birds and rustling leaves, evidence of the gentle breeze today. It’s the middle of August and yet I’m a little chilly. I can smell the faint scent of rosemary and mint coming from my little herb pots.

In the middle of that moment three years ago when I decided to put on my big girl pants and start looking for a house to buy, I wouldn’t have even asked for this house, this spot, this moment- because I didn’t think it existed. I didn’t know there was a house so perfectly suited to me- in the middle of everything and yet secluded and still. The whole thing seemed really scary and at times doomed for failure. (I actually bought the “wrong” house and then God saved me and got me out of it before I realized it was the wrong house, and at the time I was disappointed, but when I found the “right” house just weeks later, it all made sense.)

And so here I am in the middle of another moment, not knowing how it’s all going to work out. And the big thing God is asking of me right now is to trust him in the not knowing. Sometimes the big scary thing is doing what you know you are called to do. And sometimes it’s waiting and trusting until you know.

In His grace, not everything is up in the air right now. There are some knowns. I know I have had a wonderful season of rest and it’s about to get busy again. (Because, woah, a girl’s gotta have a few answers!) But, there is still waiting and just responding, submitting and receiving, and just taking it one day at a time. Still in the middle, but not stuck in the middle. Moving, changing, breathing, watching, waiting – these are gifts of the middle…the still middle.

 

Be STILL and KNOW that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.  Psalm 33:20-22

Coconut Chicken

August 6, 2014

I don’t know why but last night I had this thought that I needed to make coconut chicken. I’ve never had coconut chicken. I wondered if anyone else had thought of this. I searched and turns out others have. I tweaked a few things to make it grain free and dairy free and here’s what I came up with. And everyone loved it. (Or maybe I put words in their mouths?) Also, I added nutmeg because it just made sense to me at the moment and it worked.

Also, I am obsessed with this coconut almond milk I recently discovered thanks to my fellow foodie friend, Martha. I try to find about 5 different ways to use it a day. It is delicious.

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Coconut Chicken
8 chicken tenders
1 egg
splash of coconut almond milk
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
dash of freshly grated nutmeg

Spread some coconut oil on the bottom of a baking dish. Combine egg and milk. In a separate bowl combine almond meal, coconut, s/p, nutmeg. Dip chicken tenders in egg mixture and then dip in coconut mixture and then place on baking sheet. Drizzle a little coconut oil on top of the chicken and then sprinkle any remaining coconut mixture on top. Bake for about 30 minutes. (Depending on size of chicken- I used tenders.)

Then make this dip for your chicken:
1/2 cup of apricot jam and 2 teaspoons dijon mustard

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I went to two stores today and couldn’t find apricot jam (I have too much time on my hands) so I bought apricots and made some jam. I just cut up 5 apricots, put them in a pot with a splash of water and a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of honey and brought to a boil until it looked like jam.

I served this chicken with sweet potato fries (tossed in coconut oil to continue the theme) and kale chips.  And as I sat down to eat I realized I didn’t have a dip for the sweet potato fries.  So, I sent my sis to the kitchen to create a sauce and this is what she came back with.  Best stuff ever.  I licked the bowl.

Best Ever Yogurt Dipping Sauce
Greek yogurt
sriracha
garlic powder
crushed red pepper

She didn’t measure anything, so just make your best guess and taste as you go.  It became dip for kale chips too.  Anything to get it in my mouth.

Health Nut Cookies

July 16, 2014

I’ve just eaten my weight in them sitting right here on my back porch. But, they are healthy, so it’s probably fine, right? Just to be safe, I’m gonna go work out. I’ve posted the recipe below and you should make them and then just pace yourself a little better than I did.

I mentioned in my post about salad that it is a good idea to keep jars in your fridge with various nuts and seeds. Those babies come in handy with cookies as well.

Here are a few “healthy” baking staples I always keep on hand:

– whole wheat flour
– spelt flour
– almond meal
– (I also have brown rice flour and gfree oat flour but so far I’ve just made messes with them so…I won’t officially put them on my list!)
– oats
– dark chocolate chips or chunks
– flax seeds
– chia seeds
– pumpkin seeds
– hemp seeds (no, you won’t get high…or that I know of!)
– walnuts
– almonds
– unsweetened coconut
– maple syrup
– honey
– brown rice syrup
– coconut sugar (palm sugar)
– coconut oil
– butter (never ever margarine- for anything ever!)
– coconut cream (canned)

And I always have eggs, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and whole nutmeg.

I may lose my home one day because I can’t pay the mortgage (‘cause that stuff aint cheap, y’all… you should get pre-approved for a loan before you go to the store.) but we will all sit around in a park somewhere in the sunshine and eat cookies and be happy.

With those items on hand I can pretty much have a batch of these cookies or a fruit crisp (I try to keep frozen blueberries and peaches in the freezer) or a dark chocolate mousse ready for a dessert emergency. They are all relatively “healthy” desserts that I feel good about eating for breakfast the next morning with a cup of Cold Brew. (If you are in Lynchburg, please love yourself today and buy some Cold Brew from my good friends…If nothing else you will become friends with them when you go pick it up because they are the nicest.)

(Fruit crisp and dark chocolate mousse recipes are from Bread and Wine with a few of my own modifications, because I can’t just leave well enough alone and I’ll post about those later.)

Without further babbling, I give you…

Health Nut Cookies
1 c coconut oil (or butter or combo of both)
1 c coconut sugar
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
2 c flour (I use half whole wheat and half almond meal)
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 c oatmeal

other add-ins (Use whatever you have or like…these are a few of my favorites…)
handful or so each of various seeds- I used flax, chia, & pepita (pumpkin) seeds
1/3 c unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut
1 c dark chocolate chunks
1 c dates, pitted and chopped (or you could use dried cranberries or cherries- unsweetened)
1 c walnuts

Cream oil (or butter) and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla. In separate bowl mix flour, soda, salt, cinnamon. Add to butter mixture. Stir in oats and all add-ins. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

I normally bake about half of the batch and then roll out the rest and freeze them for extreme emergencies when I need a cookie in 8 minutes.

Enough

June 22, 2014

Last week I found myself awake and staring at the ceiling at 2:50am on a dumb red polka dot futon with a flimsy blanket in a stranger’s house. How did I get here? How many bad decisions led me to this place?   I hate house sitting. I never do it. I like my own house, my own big white fluffy bed, the creaks from my own house, the sound of cars on my street. Yet, here I am. I started to feel grumpy.

I guess it started back in ’99. I met a friend who became one of my bestest friends ever. It was love at first laugh. She is hilarious. But, she is much more than that- a good and generous friend. And I knew if I were in the same position she would be there for me. So, when she had had a bad day and didn’t want to feel scared and alone in the big house in the big, rich neighborhood where she was house sitting, I said I would come over.

All the rooms in this house and I’m laying on this polka dot futon in a cold corner.

3:30 and still awake.

Phone has died now. No idea what time it is. Sun, please come out so I can get up and go home!

Sometime between 2:50am and 6:15am, when I got up and went home, something changed. I started praying. I prayed for my friend to get the rest she needed for a busy day of work ahead. I prayed for a peaceful heart for her. I prayed for my own little self to calm right on down.

I stopped worrying about not having enough (not enough warmth, comfort, rest) and began connecting with the truth that I have everything I need. I have plenty; I can give.

There are days when I look around at all the challenges, suffering, heartache and needs around me and I feel heavy. And then sometimes I stay there just feeling heavy and helpless and I creep into the land of lack- the place where there is not enough. Since there is so much that needs to be fixed in the world I better hold on tight to every little bit of energy, time, money, love, resources and comfort I have.   So, a heart that starts compassionately ends up stingy, unable to help anyone because there is not enough of anything.

I take up residency in both places – lack and plenty. The fruit on the trees in those places is so very different. When you know that your Father owns it all, and if He called you to it you have everything you need, you give with abandon because you know there is plenty more where that came from. When you believe you must handle everything in your own strength and wisdom, your heart closes in around your own needs to protect from the heaviness of a world that needs you. Yes, the world needs you. The world needs you awake and alive to all the strength and power inside of you, giving it away like it grows on trees.

So, all I can do is wake up each day and remind myself that I have enough and plant myself in that place for the day. And over time and with practice, the place I sometimes live the land of lack will become overgrown and unrecognizable to this new, generous heart.

The prophet Jeremiah expresses this idea so much more eloquently…

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength…He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

But, blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…he will be like a tree planted by the water…it does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Nana

June 19, 2014

She is clothed with strength and dignity.

She can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom

And faithful instruction is on her tongue.

I come from a line of strong, brave women. In fact, I am surrounded by strong, brave women. Women who have not had an easy time. Women who have every reason to throw in the towel and just be a victim, just survive. But they don’t. They inspire, they grow, they strengthen. They become more beautiful.

The matriarch of us all is the most inspiring, my nana.

In 1950 she graduated from college with a nursing degree at age 20. She was single, young and free. And she remained that way for 2 years. In 1950 that was probably scandalous and ridiculous. She is the most gorgeous and petite little feminist I know.  She married in 1952 and had 10 babies over the next 18 years. She continually put her own needs below those of her growing family and served them faithfully through triumphs and challenges.

Her baby was only 5 years old when I came along, yet she had it in her to be a sweet grandmother to me. We named each other. She gave me my nickname “Teecy,” and being the first grandbaby, I decided we would all call her “Nana.” She really understood me at a young age too, telling my mother, “She will be running the world before too long. Watch that one.”

Growing up, I watched her every move. There was something so intriguing about her. My favorite place to be in her house was the kitchen, because she was there. She moved through the kitchen, chardonnay in hand, cooking wonderful meals for us. She sat in her spot at the table each night, saying prayers, enjoying us all. She prayed and read the Word. She served at church. And she served her family.   She is the most unselfish, gracious person I know. And she really has serious skills in the kitchen. I call her often for tips, advice and recipes. A few years ago at Thanksgiving, she patiently taught me how to make homemade piecrust. A memory I will treasure.

She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She has experienced 2 children die in her home, using her training as a nurse to serve them in their last days.

And then she watched her husband die several years ago.   All that time she was his- serving, loving, protecting.

And still, her laugh is contagious and comes so easily.

She is clothed with strength and dignity. She can laugh at the days to come.

A while passed.

Then Joe found her, or found her again.

Joe first found her in college. He was smitten.   But life took them down different paths. They lived separate lives- spouses, children, careers, grandchildren, joys and struggles.

Somehow, 2 years ago, he got in touch with my nana and they began a sweet friendship that turned to romance.

For the past two years they have traveled the east coast, visiting family and friends and exploring along the way. Their affection has grown.   My nana has experienced someone who truly sees her and adores her.  Someone gentle, kind, loving and just completely smitten. She flung her heart wide open and received it.

While she has in no way been weakened by this, she has, I believe, been able to breath. To relax. To be loved. To be served.   She has known what it is like for someone to completely adore her.

Oh, and she is so adorable. So easy to love, in my opinion.

And the family rejoiced. Yes! This is what she needs. This is so good.

Then, suddenly, on June 8 Joe died in his sleep.

No! Not after just two years! They had so many plans. They had dreams. They had a New England tour planned for the summer. They had a bucket list. She was so happy.  She has endured so much. She deserves a longer reprieve.

But, in true Nana fashion, this is not her attitude. She is grieving, for sure. She will need to. But, she is already speaking hope and gratefulness for the time they had. She knows her Strength so well.   She is encouraging us.

She is clothed with strength and dignity.

Nana has taught me so much.

She didn’t just teach me to make a piecrust, she taught me to do hard things.

She didn’t tell me to be faithful. She is faithful.

She didn’t tell me where hope really lies. She showed me.

She didn’t tell me to laugh. She laughed.

And in this new moment, grieving again, she is not growing weary.   She leans into her Strength.   She is brave and inspiring.  She follows her Lord so gracefully into peace and joy and strength.

 

She is clothed with strength and dignity.

She can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom

And faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:25-26