Saturday, March 2, 2019

Ham and Sage Pasta Toss

16oz gluten free pasta, cooked to package directions

1.5 cups beef stock

2 Tbs grapeseed or olive oil

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 cup diced ham

1/4-1/2 tsp dried sage

2 Tbs butter

2 cups fresh spinach, chopped

Bring beef stock to boil until reduced to about a cup (12-15 minutes) (Optional: add 1/2 cup red wine as well)

In large non-stick skillet pan, heat oil over medium high heat, saute mushrooms until soft, then add sage and ham. Saute ham until lightly brown.

Stir in butter and beef stock reduction. Allow to thicken slightly over 2-3 minutes and then stir in spinach and pasta (and 1/2 cup parmesan or Italian cheese if using).

Meals from Friends

We ate like kings in January. Literally in a 4 week period, I think I cooked twice? So so many delicious meals, and I feel so incredibly loved.

Literally every single meal was delicious, and made enough for leftovers. Sometimes lots of leftovers! Like two dinners, and a lunch and some left to freeze. It feels like my very own loaves and fishes miracle during a dark season.

A few meals really stood out and were very different than our usual far, in a good way:

Orange Chicken

Creamy Tuscan Chicken

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Ham and Sage Pasta Toss

Lick Your Plate Coconut Chicken Curry

Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Broccoli

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Recipes I Want to Make: Holiday Edition

I get really burnt out on cooking sometimes, but lately I've been itching to try some new recipes. Especially if they're warm and comforting, or holiday-themed!


Soup

Salsa Verde Steak Soup

Celery Root and Cauliflower Soup

Immunity-Boosting Golden Soup



Vegetables

Thanksgiving Panzanella

Shredded Kale Salad



Dessert

This is barely a recipe, but the Pamela's gluten-free dairy-free sugar cookie mix + Miyokos dairy-free butter + 2 Tbs Bob's Red Mill egg replacer + 6 Tbs water + 2 tsp fresh lemon zest = HEAVEN. It's not as high maintenance as it sounds, and the flavor and texture were spot-on.

Peanut 'Better' Balls

Molasses Cookies (would need to sub GF flour)

I'm craving the oreo cheesecake that Modern Love recently added to their menu. But since it's not a local restaurant, these will have to do.

Vegan Salted Peanut Butter Crunch Torte

Vegan Cashew Espresso Truffles

Vegan Gluten Free Gingerbread Cake


Lunch bowls

I've been loving these lately. Highlights include quinoa, beets, spinach, roasted chickpeas, and tahini dressing.

Also loved brown rice, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, red onion, capers, Kite Hill vegan ricotta cheese, and Everything but the Bagel seasoning.

Next I want to try this Macro Bowl

This Southwestern Bowl,

and This Rice Bowl with Shitakes and Peas




Breakfast

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oatmeal

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins (still decent when I cut the sugar by about a third)



Dinner

I recently made this Skillet Honey Pomegranate Chicken, and while it was a little more work than I like during the witching hour, it was PHENOMENAL. (I used my dutch oven, and I didn't have pom nectar, so I used a tad more juice and a tad more honey than called for.)

Simple Dutch Oven Chicken. Really similar technique to the above recipe, but a very different flavor. So good!

Vegan Cottage Pie

Basically all of these freezer meals -- This is my New Year's Resolution!


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Meal Planning

This week has been kind of awesome. I'm such a brat about leftovers, and somehow this week we've managed to stretch two big meals into something that felt a little different each night!

On Sunday, I threw a bunch of stuff into the crockpot for Texas chili. Ross grilled hotdogs for the kids, and they had chili dogs, carrot sticks, and apples for dinner. I had leftovers when I got home.

On Monday, we had chili/chili dogs again, but I made a yummy fall kale salad to go with it.

On Tuesday, I made baked potatoes, bacon, and sliced green onions to put the chili on.

On Wednesday, I made fish taco bowls. I guess more specifically, I did the easy version of these. I used the fish rub recipe as posted (YUM) and served with rice, quick pickled onions, red bell pepper (from our garden), jalepenos, canned black beans, sliced Napa cabbage, avocado, and lime. I'm sure chipotle crema on top would be amazing, but I just mixed our favorite vegan Ranch with our favorite mild salsa and it was great! We eat tacos a lot, but for some reason this recipe just tasted totally fresh and different.

Tonight and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday), we are eating the same bowl ingredients except the fish is gone, so I threw some pre-marinated chicken tinga from the freezer and into the crockpot. People can eat it as a bowl, salad, or in tacos.

Then over the weekend, we will use the rest of the cabbage in crack slaw. But in the summer, turning it into actual coleslaw alongside grilled chicken would be great, too!

This has been perfection, because the weather has been sunny and warm in the afternoon this week, so we are taking FULL advantage of it and I'm so happy I don't have to spend each night prepping some new meal!

For the record, Rosie broke her arm 2.5 weeks ago, and for some crazy reason, she started sleeping through the night the day she got her cast on. (I don't want to jinx this!!!) It's crazy how much more manageable life feels when you sleep through the night. I'm so thankful and I really hope this is the beginning of a new normal for us! So if this week's meals don't sound as amazing to you as they do to me, maybe I'm just on a high from sleeping 6 hours in a row, 6 nights in a row!


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The One Conference 2018

So I've been binge-watching this show on Netflix called Jane the Virgin. So... unexpected, right? It's the most bizarre show I've ever seen. More telenovela than sitcom. But you know what? It's really making me miss writing, of all things! It makes me want to read more and write more and really find my voice. But also... I know this isn't really the time or place to suddenly dig into that 100%. So I'll keep posting here. Little Ebenezer stones on this path I'm walking.

Amidst what feels like chaos, I'm starting to see themes emerging again. Instead of straight up survival mode, I'm sensing little love notes from God dropping into my days. Random things that have caught my mind are suddenly being tied together in my heart. And I don't want to forget. So... I write.

And today, I'm writing about water. It has been raining for what must only be 5 days or so, but it feels like forever. The ground is saturated and spongy. My feet actually squelched when I walked across the backyard this morning. It's still warm-ish, so I don't mind so much, I guess. Although I am ready to see the sun soon.

I drove to and from The One Conference in on and off rain on Friday and Saturday. Seven hours of driving in a 24 hour period, and I hate driving. I alllllmost didn't go. Rosie broke her arm last Monday, and last Friday afternoon we got the cast put on! So when I should have been leaving with the carpool, I was instead just getting home from the hospital and feeding kids, doing the naptime routine, and fretting that I hadn't even packed yet. When I did finally leave, I saw that the GPS predicted a 3.5 hour drive time instead of the three I anticipated. Sure enough, there was a super random detour 2/3 of the way through that took me off of I-35 and into Amish country. Like, I actually saw a horse drawn carriage going down the road! But you know what? The drive was really beautiful. Green hills, leaves that were just starting to turn, and a grey sky that somehow intensified all the colors with its filtered, muted light. It was just me, my podcasts, and the view.

Well, and the GPS navigator voice. And the RAIN. Noticeably and gratefully absent, though, was my companion Panic. Once I decided I was still going despite the weather, despite the crazy week, despite the fact that I missed my carpool and missed dinner and I'd be an hour late to the opening session, I just kept going. Because what else can you do? Something deep within me knew I needed refreshment and not just escape. I needed to hear words of life from wise and strong women who have walked their own journeys and found their stories in God's bigger story. And I'm so glad I listened to that voice instead of, well, binge-watching Netflix alone in a hotel room somewhere.

But back to the rain. It's stressful driving in the rain, especially if you're in a new place and the sun is setting and you're running late. I didn't think too much about it on my drive to the conference, but on the way home, the drive afforded some time for my chaotic thoughts to settle, and they started solidifying around a unifying theme: WHAT IF I'M BEING DRENCHED INSTEAD OF BEING DROWNED?* What if the very grace I need is deep within my circumstances? The faith I ask for is found by drinking deeply of what feels like a deluge. I asked for living water and it's being given to me in spades, just not in the way I expected.

"In order to find God, it is perhaps not always necessary to leave the creatures behind... The world is crowded with Him... The real labour is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake." C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcom
------- 

A varied assortment of podcast episodes whose themes seem to have coalesced into my current musings on expectations, rest, and being filled up:

Journeywomen Ep. 70: The New Heavens and the New Earth with Nancy Guthrie

Journeywomen Ep. 45: Rest with Abigail Dodds

Sorta' Awesome Ep. 162: Self-Care, Self-Comfort, What's Healthy, What's Not

Risen Motherhood Ep. 91: Coffee, Wine, and Social Media

Journeywomen Ep. 35: On What to do with Unmet Expectations

Songs:

Rising Sun by All Sons & Daughters

No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music

I Asked the Lord by Indelible Grace




*I have to credit this thoughts to Abigail Dodds, who said in a workshop on Saturday that never to we drink so deeply as in times of trial.



Thursday, October 4, 2018

Sips of Living Water

To be honest, I felt kind of silly doing today's devotional at MOPS, because the truth is, my private devotional life has been less than stellar for the past 11 months. I've had dark seasons in my life where one big heavy thing casts a shadow over everything, and it feels like you need Jesus more than you need water. In those seasons, I have been able to dig deep into the Word of God and find rest.

But my current season isn’t dark so much as heavy and exhausting. It feels like a lot of medium-sized heavy things just keep coming: lack of sleep, family drama, health issues, medical bills... I've been running on fumes and at the same time, beating myself up for not having the discipline to sit down and dig deep. If I did it in that season, why can't I do it in this one? 

But I'm starting to see that different seasons call for different spiritual disciplines. I'm making things even harder with unrealistic expectations. Because you see, I tend to think that if I'm pouring out THIS much into other people all day long, then I need to fill my glass up THIS MUCH every morning. I constantly berate myself for not waking up at 4am just to have an hour of quiet Bible study. I have early risers and non-sleepers and I don't know about you, but having to address kids before I'm fully awake leaves me feeling like I cannot catch up the rest of the day.

But the truth is, Jesus never said he was a pitcher of water. He didn't even come to give me a pitcher of water. He says he IS a well of water, ever springing. More than I could ever ask or imagine is available to me through him. I don't need to constantly be trying to fill up my pitcher in this season, because there aren't enough hours in the day. But I CAN take sips of that living water throughout my day. I can meditate on one verse, listen to one song, spend one minute breathing in and out with intention.

I don't know why it's taken me over 4 years to realize that different seasons call for different spiritual disciplines, but a book called Long Days of Small Things has been a breath of fresh air for me! Each chapter can stand alone, and it comes with three spiritual disciplines to focus on over the next few days. The clincher is that these are things you're already doing! Chapter 1 focuses on breathing, walking, and eating. Little sips of living water as you go about the most mundane things.

In the first chapter, Catherine McNiel says:

I stole away into an adult world for a weekend to attend a Christian conference. In the hot, crowded room, the speaker drove his point home with passion: If we have a genuine commitment to knowing God, we must spend at least an hour each day in silence and solitude. 
There I was, ground to a halt once again. About to birth my third child in five years, I hadn't slept through the night or gone to the bathroom by myself anytime in recent memory. My physical body housed a tiny tenant; I was literally inseparable from this beloved person I nurtured. This simple suggestion of solitude-- one I would have recommended myself in a different season-- stole my breath away. 
I didn't hear anything else at the conference, because these words reverberated through my ears and soul for weeks, drowning out everything else. The list of spiritual disciplines no longer feasible to me as a mother grows longer with each new child. And, of course, any thought of silence and solitude is a happy dream mostly forgotten. 
No one tries to exclude mothers from the "spiritual life," but it happens regardless. I hear laments rising up in the hearts of mothers, mourning the losses that this season of nurturing unexpectedly brings: the impossibility of pursuing something soul-creative, something life-giving.  
[...] And yet. Underneath my unwashed hair and sleepy eyes, the truth in undeniable: These days have been made out of miracles. Uniquely and utterly female miracles. Pregnancy, labor, delivery, newborn days, and nurturing growing children have taken me to places where only women and mothers can go. These fundamental experiences are inescapably feminine, not experienced by all women, but by only women. If our daily experiences are so entirely singular, why shouldn't our spiritual disciplines be uniquely suited to us as well? 
So now, almost a decade into the most grueling journey of selfless giving and sacrifice I can imagine, my spirit is fighting back. There must be another path.
Children are consuming. They leave us with nothing left to give ourselves or anyone else. But this is the perfect training ground for our spirits, the very setting many disciplines are designed to produce! Our demanding, beloved children are what we create-- they are our spiritual path. What if we looked through new eyes and discovered that into our very life stages our Creator has placed impressions of himself, reflections of his strength and beauty, a spiritual path laid out just for us? 
[...] Some religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, have a name for people in this predicament: householders. Recognizing that folks can't just up and leave their spouses or children, these religions give householders a different set of expectations. Rather than becoming meditating monks, studying under gurus and wandering alone through the forest, householders are asked, for now, simply to be faithful in responsibility. 
Though we mamas may appear half-crazed, sleep-deprived, harried, and unkempt, our souls are being taught and sharpened and purified. I'm sure of it. We're not able to sit and ponder this, or even be aware of it most of the time. But soul refining is the work of struggle, sacrifice, discomfort, and perseverance. My three whirling dervishes take me to the end of myself on a daily basis, and I'm certain my soul will emerge stronger for it.

SO GOOD. Here are some resources for more refreshment, too.


Books

Long Days of Small Things

Loving the Little Years

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full


Podcasts 

Coffee + Crumbs Ep 28: Long Days of Small Things

Hello Mornings Ep 4: How to Begin and Build a Brilliant Morning

Risen Motherhood Ep 63: Growing in God's Word as a Mom of Little Ones


Music

This song is my anthem right now! I Asked the Lord sung by Indelible Grace

Satisfied   (My favorite version is on iTunes and it's on the City Hymns album by Karl Digerness, but I couldn't find a video of it.)







Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Humility in Motherhood

After Noah was born, I spent a lot of time telling myself, I can'tI've written before that I eventually found the second half of that statement to be ...but God can! Now that Rosie's been here for a year, I'm finally seeing the hidden subtext I'd never noticed before: When I say I can't, I'm really beating myself up because the message is, "I should be able to, BUT I can't."

This has been a revelation to me in the past week or so. The embarrassing is, I'm not trying to hold the world up on my shoulders and do all the things. To many, my calendar might look pretty clear. So when I'm saying I can't, it's not in response to not being able to run the local MOPS group single-handedly. I'm saying I can't get through the day with my kids without having moments of wanting to run away for a week. I can't stop myself from yelling when discipline gets challenging (the fatigue of a second child is definitely bringing out the yeller in me that I had pridefully thought wasn't there before). I can't organize fun activities for the kids when it takes everything in me to get out of bed again.

I have trouble sharing and verbalizing these things because many of my friends have more kids. They have more obligations. They work more hours outside the home. And if they don't, well, I find myself feeling bitter and resentful that they DO have more money, or more childcare, or family in town, or a bigger house.

I'm seeing that humility goes both ways: I can feel shame in feeling like I've been given more than I can handle, and I can feel shame in the fact that I can't handle more.

Last weekend, I listened to a podcast episode on self-care and self-comfort. I really liked the distinction between the two, and the suggestions they discussed. I asked some friends what they did for self-care and self-comfort. More as a conversation starter than anything, but it brought out some ugly responses in my mind. Why CAN'T I get up in the morning before my kids if the mom of three under three can? Why CAN'T I go to the gym in the morning and put my kids in childcare? My answers ranged from practical to petty: I can't wake up before my kids because I'm often awake either multiple times or for for multiple hours between 2-5am. I can't go to the gym in the morning because I'm already anxious about germs after how bad last winter was, and since Rosie still takes morning naps, I can't be at the gym first thing before other kids and their germs start to filter in.

Then I started beating myself up about the fact that I still haven't figured out how to work out consistently with two kids around. (Sleep-deprived monkey brain is a REAL THING.) Then I remembered that Rosie and I were sick for about 4 months straight from mid-October through mid-February, including several ER visits and one inpatient stay. And once the sickness passed, she was in a habit of waking up every 45-90 minutes for WEEKS and I was so exhausted I had to take the month of March off of work completely. So then self-flagellation turned to self-pity, which quickly went down the path of "no one understands how hard my life is." I'm left trying to justify my own difficulties and my own capacity, which is really unnecessary.

Clearly, I'm not in a good head space. But God has been gracious to me in that he seems to be giving me some tools and insights to get out of this vicious cycle. When we night-weaned and sleep trained a month ago, I had really high hopes. I registered for a month with a personal trainer. I bookmarked a bunch of new recipes. I checked out a ton of parenting books from the library. And you know what? If anything, we are sleeping LESS. HUMILITY YOU GUYS. He's leaving no doubt in my mind that the ONLY things I can focus on right now are the basics: sleeping, eating, breathing, walking. I can dive deeper into these disciplines instead of trying to cast a wider net of "shoulds."

The funny thing is, I've been beating myself up for A YEAR thinking, if I can just find the best devotional routine, or a quick mid-day recharge, or a self-care routine, or a daytime babysitter for 2 hours a week, I can find rest in the midst of the crazy. I have no doubt that God invites us to rest in the midst of the crazy. Even Jesus went away to be alone (and sometimes got interrupted when he did).

But sleep deprivation is real. I constantly feel like I'm coming down with the flu. My whole body hurts and I'm tired down to my bones. My short-term memory is shot, and my word and name recall is just embarrassing. Instead of adding more "self-care" things to my list of obligations, maybe I need to remove some of the "self-harm" things? The social media that's fine in and of itself, until I spend the precious little free time I get scrolling on my phone. The playdates that I like to plan because they mean getting out of our messy house, and they occupy my 4 year old so he's not constantly pestering me, but they also interfere with a daily routine and leave me tired AND missing out on my 45-60 minutes of mid-day down time.

This even extends to my other work, minimal as it might be. My hospital job was my very favorite thing before Rosie was born, but it's been a struggle for the past year. Maybe it was maternity leave: the bliss of having every single weekend free for three months. Or maybe it's just that now I need more downtime to balance out more chaos. Whatever it is, I'm just over here trying to maintain the status quo until God gives me some clear direction one way or another. I ALMOST quit in March, which is a whole post of its own. But I haven't written it yet, because everything still feels so undetermined.

My lactation consultant home-visit business has been, surprisingly, growing. I see one client a week, and often turn another 1-2 down because of time constraints. When I only have a few consistent rest times during the week, seeing a client during that time and striving to get both kids down and quiet and tidy up the house... is burning me out. And as always in my life, I have trouble distinguishing between whether I'm being called to push through and do the hard work, or whether I'm being called to lay that work down.

So I wait. And I'm faithful with the bare minimum: sleeping, eating, breathing, walking.

Because when I acknowledge that I CAN'T, I'm really acknowledging that I'm not God. And that's RIGHT where I need to be.