Wednesday Words

"But, dear reader, there is no comfort in the word 'farewell', even if you say it in French.  'Farewell' is a word that, in any language, is full of sorrow.  It is a word that promises absolutely nothing."
The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo 


Simple Joys

This week, I'm linking up with my adorable friend at Melinda Blogs {sometimes} and sharing my Simple Joys; little things that have made the day brighter in their simplicity!

{God's love for me}
Not really a simple joy, but a simple message that I have been guilty of overcomplicating.  My Father is faithful to me, in spite of me, and He's daily revealing to me how intense are his affections for me.  I wrote about this in a guest post for Lovely Thoughts, featuring today on the lovely blog of my sweet friend, Yelena.  She is an ambitious law student, desiring to bring a worldview of Christ and his love to her field.  I've been blessed to blog-fellowship with her for over two years!

{scattered peas}
Bear and Bee love sweet peas.  They aren't the most convenient of vegetables, since they scatter everywhere and fall into every crevice.  But as long as the girls will eat their fill of something green, I will serve them.  This week, whilst cleaning up yet another scattered mess of peas, I realized that I will blink and those peas will be the bobbi pins of teenage daughters.  Ultimately, there will be no traces of my wee ones in my empty nest.  Then and there, I gave thanks for scattered peas.

{a red kettle}
Since it came to us as a wedding gift, this has journeyed with us since the very beginning of our adventure.  It has definitely earned it's place on the stovetop, where it never leaves it's post.  It has served us countless cups of tea, thawed breast milk, made baby bottles, blanched it's weight in sweet peas and warmed bath water when the propane tanks were empty.  I think of it very affectionately as my sidekick; my cherry red squire, in it for the long haul on the battleground of making home.

Even when I was young and my siblings were growing too old for pacifiers, I would rebel against weaning them even more than the toddler did.  I so love binky-faces.  Bear is now reaching that long-dreaded season of binky-weaning.  She still wants it at nap and bedtime, and it kind of makes me sad.  Maybe it's not saying good bye to the binky that is sad, but saying good bye to the babyhood that it seems to take with it.

Oh, tea.  After two pregnancies, I haven't been able to touch my once beloved coffee.  But tea and I have rekindled our romance.  My staples are Red Raspberry Leaf, African Rooibos and my favorite, Kurdish Mountain Chai.  This simple, yet lovely blend of chai is made by some dear friends of ours who have a special place in their heart for missions to Iraq.  Their chai blend not only makes an excellent latte, but every purchase helps fund heart surgeries for children in Iraq.  You should get some from their Etsy shop and see what you're missing!

Or bangs, if you prefer.  I've had them for a couple weeks and I loooove them.  I may never go back.

What simple things have brought you joy, friend?
This is an excellent way to stop and "smell the roses" of our day-to-day and give thanks.  You should link up with Melinda and try it.  It's as good for the soul as Kurdish chai. :)


Early Advent

In my corner of the world, most of the golden crops around us have been harvested, leaving behind such barrenness that you scarcely remember the life that was there all year.  The leaves are only just beginning to turn, as if Bob Ross is going along and frosting the edges of our happy little trees with reds and yellows.  The pumpkin stands have been in business for weeks, the mum's blooms are almost gone and the nights are holding their breath for the first frost to herald the heart of autumn, beloved autumn.

Now that we have entered the loveliest of seasons--of warm beverages, cozy clothes, bonfires and giving thanks--my mind's eyes can't help but skip ahead to it's successor season, winter Christmastime.  This year is the one year anniversary of my saddest Christmas, and I confess, the beginning of my truest hope of resurrection. And this year, my heart has begun Advent early.

The changing landscape colors and the harvested crops have been constantly reminding me that we are in the fore-season of a coming King.  With Christmas on it's way, I'm reminded that while we celebrate his birth, we are living the reality of his Second Coming.  The news stories of persecution, corrupt governments, war and rumors of war, and the ever growing war in our culture against the followers of Jesus...all have me inclined to have the lamps of my mind and heart full of oil, making ready.

During this season, when everything dies and lays waiting, hoping for the life of resurrection spring, I remember that our whole life is a season of waiting.  If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised King, then Advent is more than four weeks of pre-Christmas festivities. 
Advent is our whole, earthly life.

When you see golden leaves, remember Israel's wait for relief from captivity and exile, while bound by the curse of the law.  When you see the death of crops and foliage, remember mankind's wait for relief from our sin wages and the enemy, death.  Let the first frost cause us to remember that we are also sojourners and aliens, without our true home.  May the gathered harvests make us rejoice that Christ has turned the waiting of enslaved outcasts to the waiting of freed, redeemed sons of a heavenly home.

In the slow, beautiful death of Creation around us, call to mind that...
Our King was born
Our King was buried.
Our King is alive, &
our King is coming for us.


Wednesday Words

Margaret Hale, to her father about her opinion of the proud, Mr. Thornton:

"He is the first specimen of a manufacturer--of a person engaged in trade--that I have had the opportunity of studying, papa.  He is my first olive; let me make a face while I swallow it."

North & South, Elizabeth Gaskell


Stuffed Peppers (Yub Nub Style)

Everyone knows that whatever you do not have leftovers of is a keeper-recipe.  This was true for my whack at stuffed peppers, inspired by Italian taste and whatever I had on hand at the time.  Since we loved it so much, I had to share it...

Italian Stuffed Peppers
Ingredients (some approximate):
1 lbs. of ground beef
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
Garlic powder, to taste
6-8 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup of Velveeta
4 large green bell peppers (or probably 6 small peppers)
3/4 - 1 cup of Colby jack cheese, grated

Brown the ground beef and drain.  Add chopped bell pepper and onion, sauté until soft and translucent.  Add olives, mushrooms and canned tomatoes.  Add garlic powder and basil and stir.  Remove from heat and stir in Velveeta until melted.  Cut around the top of your bell peppers and discard the "lid". Cut out the spines and rinse out the seeds.  Generously stuff your peppers with meat mixture, and top with Colby jack cheese, stuffing it in a little to create a cheesy, gooey trap.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until stuffing is bubbly and cheese is melted and browned.
Makes 4 large, generously stuffed peppers (with some leftover stuffing).

  • These were Italian-inspired and I wanted to make a red sauce from the diced tomatoes, but added them straight from the can since our blender was out of commission.
  • We don't like to remove the fresh basil from any of our dishes, but if you find that icky, chopping it fine or using dried basil would be good, too.
  • Velveeta and Colby jack cheeses were all I had on hand, but a more Italian-ish stuffed pepper would have mozzarella or provolone.
  • I would have loved to have had carrots or spinach on hand--grating the carrots fine and sprinkling in some spinach would have been a stealthy dare to healthy fare!
Yumminess and that last brilliant cheesy line brought to you by, Jen.  You're welcome.


Wednesday Words

"We talk as those who believe God is omnipotent and omnipresent, but we often act as if He can only work through one person, one method, or one kind of ministry at a time.  If we don't refuse ourselves the indulgence, we can lapse into the mentality of a spoiled child who thinks that if God shows you favor, He must hate me...
"One the other hand, we can do our level best not to compare ourselves with those of similar gifting or calling...others will leap forward to do it for us.  Stand back and watch how many observers will try to nudge you into a competition with someone who fills a similar slot.  The idea that anything comparable is automatically competitive."
~Beth Moore, Mercy Triumphs


When Your Husband Doesn't Fit

His strong hand holding mine, our fingers entwined and palms perfectly aligned.
I walk in synchronized strides beside him, as if our steps were professionally choreographed.
My body’s design is well-suited under his arm as if he were sculpted to fit me there,
and I was sculpted to fit there.
My head lays comfortably on his chest, as if it were made to forever nestle there.

These were the whirling daydreams of my single days, when I subconsciously thought that the above would magically manifest when I met the mate God had designed for me.  Before Mr. O came on the scene, I experienced two failed relationships; both which were sprinkled with hands that fit, strides that met and chemistry to prove this was it!  But they definitely were not it.  While the stomach butterflies testified that I had found my match, I couldn't ignore the red flags slapping me in the face and screaming for me to run far, far away.

Then I met Mr. O.
A handsome guy who loved Jesus, dressed like an old man, and treated me like he just robbed Mr. Darcy of all his class.  He held my heart hostage from the moment I saw him in his tucked in, tailored button up and his Reformation Study Bible in tow.  After one week of courting, I knew I wanted him to marry me.  After four months of engagement, that’s exactly what he did.
But in early engagement and marriage days, I was surprised to realize something.  This man that I knew God had designed for me, didn’t fit me.  Our hands were so different, that I had to twist my wrist in such a way that only the top third of my fingers fit between his, causing our palms to be hardly aligned!  My body design was odd next to his, and though he is taller than me, I had to duck over a little to fit under his arm.  This made for neck-painful snuggle walking*.  Mr. O had open heart surgery when he was five years old, but by that time his chest bone had grown around his enlarged heart, making it difficult to lay comfortable on his chest.  We were a mess!  I promise we aren’t as deformed as we sound, but we’re definitely not going to be the snuggling couple on the cover of the next Valentine's  Day Hallmark card.
I loved this guy so much and he infested my stomach with butterflies, but I had moments of childish disappointment when we would go for walks or snuggle to read together.  It was so much work feeling like I had to contort my body uncomfortably to be close to him.  I don’t even know that Mr. O noticed, and he will probably be horrifyingly surprised to read this post.  But I had resolved that I would have to change my strides, twist my wrists, and deform my head on his chest for the rest of my married life.
Not long after that resolution, the Lord began to show me all the ways He designed us to fit that were made of much more substance than hand-holding and snuggle walking…
How his teary eyes met my teary eyes when we heard Andrew Peterson sing High Noon and The Reckoning live, because we both love the gospel-resurrection story.  Or when we heard of the violent attacks against our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and Kenya, and stopped our day to weep and pray for them.  Or how we both love the taste of authentic Taqueria tacos, complete with a real-cane-sugar Coca, because it transports us back to Iguala, Guererro, Mexico and the people we love there.  Or how a source of strong comfort in 40+ hours of labor was Mr. O's voice reading the book of Hebrews aloud to me.
We went on a date about a month ago, and since we didn’t have a stroller to push, we snuggle walked and held hands.  To my surprise, our strides were the same.  My neck didn’t hurt.  Our hands, while still a little twisted, fit so much better than when we first met.  I transported myself through the last three years of marriage, wondering when something had changed.  Which of us had changed our stride?  Which of our body structures had morphed?  How did our hands fit now, when my knobby knuckles were still there?  When did my head start nestling into his chest? 
It made me wonder, if only three years of marriage would sync us together like that, what will 50 years of walking together look like?  How much more will I get his humor?  Will we still cry at the same songs, be impassioned by the same Scripture?

God doesn’t sculpt our perfect spouse from day one, not physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally.  Marriage is about becoming one, together.  Day to day, fight to fight, romance to romance, tragedy to tragedy, the Almighty God is sculpting a place under Mr. O’s arm just for me.
*yes that’s a thing.  That I just made up.


Wednesday Words

"True hope changes sorrow, but does not obliterate it.  Death is not to be taken as a 'normal, beautiful release' but as an enemy which separates body from spirit and human beings from each other.  It spoils the beautiful creation of God.  It is so basically an enemy that God says that He will pay a great price, a ransom, to deliver us from death's power..."

~Edith Schaeffer, Affliction