Friday, September 19, 2014

Sabbath.

So many good things happened this week. Fall popped in to say hello, it rained almost every day, for the span of about an hour I had a completely clean sink. I was introduced to the most phenomenal pizza ever (recipe coming soon) and adapted a really great soba noodle salad. The stars were all aligning for me. More about this later, but first, Fall.
Are you flashing back to all the early fall rain-dancing I’ve made you do? Well keep it up, because it’s working. Last week, we had temperatures of, get this….. 57 degrees. In Texas. In September. My heart.
Robin and I fished out our sweaters and hats and sat outside, journaling, reading, drinking mochas with little hearts in the foam, and generally freaking out because we weren’t hot!


If you aren’t from Texas, you can’t understand this, but there is literally a point where you have been hot for so long that you can’t remember how it feels to be cold. I almost burst into “A Whole New World” when we stepped outside but Robin restrained me. Kind of.
We spent most of the day either outside or with the windows open, just staring in rapture at rain, giddy with the knowledge that it was cool outside. And nothing to do! What good fortune for all this to happen on a Saturday! There is a God.
Making my mom’s potato soup was one of the best ways that I could think of to celebrate the day. It’s one of the recipes that really isn’t a recipe that the women in my family have passed down to each other, all just judging by smell and consistency and intuition. I’ve included the bones of it for you. This is the perfect soup for sick littles and cool days. This soup cooks for a while, leaving you time in between to check on the patient or sit down with some coffee.
Mom’s Potato Soup
(serves 4) 
     Ingredients
4-5 medium sized Russet Potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 c. half-and-half
2-3 Tbsp. of butter
Salt and black pepper, to taste
      Directions
Dice potatoes to a uniform size and add to a pot of room temperature salted water. Heat the pot to boiling, stirring potatoes occasionally. When the potatoes are tender but not too soft (“we’re not making mashed potatoes”, as mom always says) drain until water is just covering the potatoes. Mash some of the potatoes, you want this soup to still be pretty chunky. Add the half-and-half and the butter and cover the pot. Continue to cook on medium heat.

If you like your soup on the creamier side- this is the time to throw it in the food processor or mix it with an immersion blender. If you want to thicken it up, mix a little bit of cornstarch into about two tablespoons of water and stir that in. I like mine thick and chunky, more like chowder.
After you seriously cannot wait any longer, serve immediately, garnished with shredded sharp cheddar, crumbled bacon, and chives.
Happy Weekend to you all.
 
 
 
 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Completely Give.


I’ve written a lot about bitterness.  I’m sure some of you remember that being an issue for me. If not, just check out the previous post.  So, closely following that topic is this idea of forgiveness. *cue sigh of relief that I’m not making y’all listen to another tangent on bitterness. *
In my creative writing workshop, my teacher encouraged us to research the things we’re interested in. Apparently it’s good to write about things you’re interested in and also to know a little bit of legitimate information about the topic.  For some people, that might be World War II or Paris in the ‘20s or apartheid, you know, something cool.

Me? I researched forgiveness. Which actually turned out to be a good idea. Like any good scholar (or anyone with writer’s block), I started by looking up the etymology of it, and this is what I found:

Forgive (v.) Old English forgiefan “give, grant, allow; forgive,” also “to give up” and “to give in marriage;” from  for- “completely” and -giefan “give.” (Definition from etymonline.com)
Completely Give.

It also defined our modern sense of forgiveness as ‘to give up the desire or power to punish’ which is still a really noble, difficult, Gospel-oriented thing. It talks of someone being forgiven a debt they can’t pay. This was the only definition I had ever heard, and it is still a good one.

It also says to me that we’ve lost a lot of the essence of forgiveness by regarding this as the only definition.

The root of our word forgiven, ‘forgiefan’ also meant to give in marriage. I mean hey, I can decide I don’t want to punch somebody in the face anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I would be willing to let my child marry into their family. I’ll usually only give so much forgiveness, I don’t completely give it.
Now, specifically in light of the Gospel, let’s look at what that means. Here’s the story- God loved us and made us, we loved Him back for a while, then got distracted. God kept sending messengers, trying to lead us back to Him, and we added Him back onto our list of “Things to Worship” for a bit. Finally, He sent Jesus, His own Son, to lead us back, to love us, to take the punishment we deserved. Sure, He gave up His power to punish us, but He also gave Jesus in marriage to us. That’s why the Church is called The Bride.

Yeah.
Completely Give.

I don’t know who you need to forgive or for what. I don’t know how they’ve wronged you or how long it’s been going on. But, odds are you need to talk it out. Forgiveness is a two-way street. I’ve been trying to make it a one-way street for a long time where I do all the right things, I talk myself up to it, I act better, do better, try harder, and it hasn’t worked for me at all. In fact, it made me even angrier. I had to apologize. I had to forgive.
It may feel too soon, your wounds may still feel raw, you might not feel that you can keep yourself from attacking them like a rabid weasel. Let me tell you, you can. With a lot of humility and a lot prayer, you can. But it will require you to completely give.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

If you can't think of anything nice to say...

Today I am going to teach you something very important.
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “If you can’t think of something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
In my experience, no one ever means that. I think it is actually something more like this:
“If you can’t think of something nice to say, make something up.”
I can talk about this because I have not had anything nice to say to some people and have, per Thumper’s wisdom, not said anything at all… for several months.
This doesn’t really work though. Because then people think you’re a jerk, even though you’re trying to hold your tongue explicitly so people don’t think you’re a jerk.
So what do you do then? What do you do when you seriously CANNOT think of anything nice to say?!
As one of my favorite authors Anne Lamott said, “If you want to change the way you feel about people, you have to change the way you treat them.”
So I said, Annie, dear? Leave me alone.
However, what she says is true. I’m trying to change the way I feel about people, so Robin and I pray for them before we go to sleep. I pray that I will be a gracious person and no longer wish car troubles and bad hair days on those people. I pray that God will help me look more like this….
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And less like this….
 
 
 
 
 
And I pray that I will learn to be more like Jesus by truly forgiving. Forgiveness is the essence of the Gospel. I’m pretty sure that’s the whole “good news” part about it- that we’re not condemned on what we do and don’t do anymore.
In Greek mythology, there is this idea of the tragic flaw. Basically, it’s the character defect that causes the downfall of the protagonist (to quote dictionary.com) For most people it’s like pride, or whatever. For me, it’s being hyper-empathetic. I discussed this in the bitterness post, it’s where we get so amped about defending people that we can have bitterness towards someone who hasn’t even personally wronged us.
Generally, I empathize with the underdog.  I shake my little paw in fury at the big dogs who make them feel bad about themselves. And this is all good and fine until I am confronted with the truth that everyone has a little underdog in them. Even the big dogs act the way they do to protect that yappy little weakness inside that they’re afraid will get out and pee on the carpet.
So, I’m trying to seek out people’s inner underdog, and I’m trying to empathize with that little weak, lovable part of them until the rest follows. And I'll try and find something nice- and true- to say.