February 28, 2013

2.5 //I like when other people cook for me

//Confession: I like when other people cook for me.

"I'm in charge of dinner!" My guy sure knows how to make a girl swoon. And when it comes to food, well that can be difficult because I am gluten free and don't beef at all. Most of the time I cook for myself and don't often get to enjoy the pleasure of other people's home cooked meals. Recently though, Chase and I have been trying different foods from our typical chicken and veggies. Last weekend he decided to step out on a limb and picked a seafood casserole. The sound of it didn't make me too excited but as we cooked together, I couldn't wait to eat it.

We adapted the recipe from this one, subbing the mayo for plain non-fat greek yogurt and instead of tomato juice, used tomato sauce. It was quick, delicious, and left us with meals for the next day.

Easy Seafood Casserole // 

1½   cups sliced fresh mushrooms
½   tablespoon olive oil
1¼  cups cooked brown rice
6 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
½   cup chopped celery
¼   cup chopped onion
¼  cup chopped green pepper
½   cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
½   cup tomato sauce
½ lb package frozen peeled, cooked shrimp, thawed
1-  6 or 8 ounce package flake-style imitation crabmeat
1/8 teaspoon paprika
 Salt and pepper to taste
¼  cup Monterey Jack cheese

Cooking Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Drizzle oil in large skillet cook mushrooms, green pepper, onion,  water chestnuts,  over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until tender. In a very large bowl, stir together cooked mushrooms, cooked rice, water chestnuts, celery, onion, and green pepper. Stir in yogurt, tomato juice, salt, black pepper, and paprika; mix well. Stir in shrimp and imitation crab meat.

2. Spoon seafood mixture into a greased 8x8 glass pan. Sprinkle almonds and cheese over. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

Sometimes it's nice to just let someone else take the reins.//

February 25, 2013

2.4 //I Overindulge

//Confession:  I overindulge.

I haven’t been MIA for the week without reason. In fact, I’ll be surprised if anyone reads this for the mere fact that I am currently off the social media radar.  I can’t count how many times I find myself sifting through the photos of a friend I haven’t seen in years, or streaming through the arguments between commenting Facebook’rs . The YouTube videos, weddings, babies, and links at your fingertips; changing and evolving as every minute passes. It’s in my face whether I like it or not.  And with a mouse click I am drawn in; I indulge. My pleasure-seeking tendencies have led me to take a step back.

Besides being technically hypnotized my self-satisfaction carries into so many areas… finances, food, and time.  After a hard day at work, some tough news, and a headache, I climbed in my car, took a deep breath and thought, I need a glass of wine.

What is it about life that causes me to turn to indulgences that make me “feel better” rather than the One who actually makes things better?  Why is it when life gives me a hard time I don’t reach for a glass of God? My focus goes awry when difficulty shows up.

I find myself using indulgence as a way to cope. To avoid facing myself, responsibilities, or standing before Jesus. Indulgence keeps me occupied long enough to stay away from my heart issues. I space out on the inter-web to keep space between me and God.  I use wine to drown my realities and food as filler for my emptiness; habits that only produce feelings of shame and inadequacy.

I am taking 40 days to bask in the glory of deprivation.

The reason I have dedicated 40 days to face my issues of indulgence isn’t a legalistic one. I’m not “trying” to be better or prove myself worthy.  It’s as simple as being faithful in the little things. I let the little things slip through the sin cracks, you know, because “they aren’t that bad”.

Yet, I ask God what He is doing or why He hasn’t done this or given me that. Before Lent while praying, He answered: lack of faithfulness in the little things, that’s why.

By being unfaithful in even the small things I am keeping myself from all that God wants for me.  Living for Jesus simply requires dependence. I think about toddlers and their never ending dependency on adults to survive and provide. That’s what walking with God is, trusting and living IN Jesus.  A child needs help to eat, sleep, stay safe, and be comforted. That’s what we need too.  

Jesus before talking faithfulness says this, “I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”  I want to make intentional effort to give up self-seeking indulgence and give into my need for God.

Deprived?  Not quite. Gluttony was never pretty on me anyway.//

February 12, 2013

2.3 //I do not like Valentine's Day [Part 2]

//Confession: I do not like Valentine's Day [part 2] 
Catch up here if you need to.

So about a year ago I got a text from this guy, who I would call a good friend, that indicated he would like to "DTR", as my roommate put it. (For those like me who have no idea what this means, it's "define the relationship.") Apparently our friendly conversations had increased so much so that we were teetering between friends and well, more than that. I, however, was a bit oblivious to that fact. Fearful I would lose a good friend I hesitated, but only long enough to realize this guy was perfect and I'd be an idiot not to see what could be. 

After all these days gone by, it's clear to me that I had nothing to do with this arrangement; you don't find a guy like Chase by chance. God went to great lengths to arrange for Chase and I to be where we are today. Hours of prayer, skype, phone calls, flights, and miles have gone into the love that I get the privilege of enjoying. That's the real gift for me; this isn't something out of a movie or fairytale. It's work... and somehow easy at the same time. But more than any of that I have found a man who loves Jesus more than he loves me. Who teaches me what it means to love like Christ, in the way he treats me. Who prays for me instead of trying to fix me. 

I could never thank Chase enough for all the ways he loves me. Though, I have made my attempts. 

Here are [some of] of the best I've ever given:

I am not an artist. I do not claim to be, but for some reason I had an urge to make a flip book that illustrated that whole 'girl meets boy' thing... and it needed to include an air balloon. It was a valiant effort at being cute, if anything.

Chase and I connected at a debrief after extended stints overseas (his in India, mine in Poland). One of my fondest memories is sitting around playing games like 'zip/bong' and a card game called nertz with Chase and mission friends. One year later to the day, Chase was planned to arrive for his second trip to Florida. I wanted to give him something that captured inside jokes, memories, and favorite things. So I took a deck of cards and printed my favorite 'Chase things' on them... 52 weeks after we partnered up to play nertz together. It was so fun to make.

If you know anything about Chase, it's that the boy has talents that go beyond architecture. While in Texas over the summer, he spent some time teaching me the in's and out's of Adobe illustrator. So for his birthday I did my best to utilize his teaching by creating a little piece of artwork. Made of memories, lyrics, inside jokes, and prayers, words come together to illustrate Texas, Florida, and Virginia.

This bracelet with a message in braille is a bit difficult to explain without knowing us, but i'll just say it's a pretty neat little gift.

Chase & I love questions. We have spent hours asking one another random questions. This is a custom Jenga I created with questions and challenges on each piece.

I'm thankful for the gift that I didn't see coming.//  

February 8, 2013

2.2 //I do not like Valentine's Day [Part 1]

//Confession: I do not like Valentine's Day [Part 1].

I'm not saying I'm so anti-valentines I show up in black and refuse to smile. I'm not that dramatic about it, it's just not my favorite. Although I will admit that the candy is always awesome on Valentine's Day--who doesn't love heart shaped candy with a sassy message on it? 

This post however isn't so much about Valentine's day as it is love and the way we express it to each other. The whole thing about Valentine's day is flowers and chocolate and telling people that you love them. Something I can appreciate on a day to day basis, not so much on the once a year level. Gift giving is an art. And it is not about how expensive it is. Gifts to me are about thoughtfulness, inside jokes-- well planned and time invested kind of stuff. 

Not to brag or anything but the following are NOT valentine's gifts... most of these gifts were "just because". That's the kind of love I appreciate-- the kind that loves me just because, I'm me. 

I present to you [some] of the best gifts I have ever received:

This booklet is filled with short rhyming email posts that went back and forth for about a month between the two of us. He gave it to me when we finally saw each other for the first time in almost a year.  
I was speechless. It was adorable. Heart won over. 

About 4 months of skyping was the beginnings of Chase and my relationship. Though long distance wasn't ideal, this helped. We spent hours "hanging out" over skype. Little did I know while I was being my ridiculous self, Chase was capturing me in photographs. When I arrived in Texas to meet his family and see his home town, I was gifted with Facelog. Hilarious and perfect. 

The thing about distance for us was it became more difficult as time went on. Especially as I was in a major transitional period of my life. Knowing this, Chase created something called 'daily daisies' [daisies are my favorite flower]. These are cards, in individual envelopes, have thoughts about me, encouraging words, and sweet memories from the past 6 months of dating. On a hard or sad day I was to open and be encouraged. Handwritten, water-colored with white and yellow daisies, complete with twine to hang them on. 

Me and my dog carved out of a book :] 

All the instagram photos I have ever done of us, printed with the place they were taken on the bottom.

Daisy Dates. It's too hard to explain and too cute to not post. Thrift find, made into a neat little contraption that helps you pick the kind of date you should go on.

A vintage 1924 art deco spoon ring. If you know me then you know this is me, to a T. 

 I am so thankful for a love that shows all year long.//

February 4, 2013

2.1 //I have wandering eye syndrome

//Confession: I have wandering eye syndrome.

Don’t get me wrong, my eyes are firmly planted on my sweet boyfriend. He’s amazing. It’s not that kind of condition. This is a condition that goes deeper than that. On Sunday I listened to Pastor Noble shed light on the Israelites cyclical sin patterns, that often began with an eye that desired more. Whether it was building false gods, jumping to conclusions, wishing to be like the other tribes and towns, or complaining, it shouldn’t shock anyone they wandered in the desert for 40 years.

Here’s what dawned on me; I am an Isrealite. I am one of those wandering souls in the desert constantly coveting and wishing I could just get to the mirage of the “good” life ahead.  That’s the thing about the wandering eyes… they lead to wandering hearts; they cultivate idolatry. Don’t think of it like the gold statue kind of stuff, I’m talking adoration. Matt Chandler says, “Whatever is uppermost in your affections is your god and will shape every other aspect of your life”.

Wandering eye syndrome for me exists in so many areas: career, possessions, wishing I was elsewhere, or that I could be like so-and-so. Why do they get that and I don’t.  I, much like the Israelites, find myself in cyclical patterns of desire that lead to deserts. 

“The comparison game will erode your soul. If you cannot find complete contentment in the Lord and reject that provision, you may be in danger of stepping in front of God who is calling you to follow.”

Pastor Noble’s words echo in my mind. Erode your soul. Yikes. And yet it’s so true.  I try to fix problems and control scenarios, stepping out of God’s provision and into hardship. I push things to happen before God’s time and they fall apart. I put my health, wealth, and happiness first and come up short. God wants to be the sole recipient of my affections, the director of my steps. He wants lead me into the fulfillment of my destiny.

The only cure? Stop wasting time chasing mirages and follow Him into the promise land//