Gettin’ Creative

I live with a creative bunch — they all excel in music, in writing, in solving puzzles, in making cool stuff out of Legos.

You may wonder, how does a mama compete with all that?

In the kitchen.

I’m so pleased with how my lunch of leftovers (read: “There’s nothing good in the frig to eat Mom!”) turned out, I just had to share it with you!  All the measurements are approximate because it was, after all, whatever I had on hand.

Pork and Veggie Fried Rice ScrambleFried Rice – serves 2 hungry people

  • one small onion, chopped
  • one section of red bell pepper, chopped
  • two smallish carrots, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • one stick of celery, diced
  • any other veggies you need to use up: broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini

Heat a large skillet with 1 Tablespoon of sesame, peanut or coconut oil.  Drizzle in toasted sesame oil of you have it.  Saute veggies in oil still soft.

  • one leftover cooked porkchop, diced (or chicken if that’s what you have)
  • 1 T. fresh ginger, finely diced (if you have it)
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, pressed (if you have them)
  • 1 cup leftover cooked rice (been in the frig for a day or two)
  • 2-3 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork

Add meat and spices.  Saute till heated through.  Mix in the rice and a bit more sesame oil if needed to keep everything from sticking.  Push the veggie, pork, rice concoction to one side of your skillet and pour in the eggs to the empty side.  Push the eggs around with your spatula or wooden spoon till barely set, then gently incorporate the cooked eggs into the rice mixture.

  • 2-3 T. hoisin sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce or any SoyVay sauce (my favorite!)
  • handful roasted peanuts or almonds (everything tastes better with nuts!)
  • handful chopped cilantro (I didn’t take the time to chop this, but it would have been yummy.)

Gently fold in whatever asian sauce you have on hand.  Mound into flat bowls and sprinkle with nuts.  Watch your teen age son spoon it into his mouth, barely taking time to breathe.

So this is me being creative.  A rewarding venture.  It’s the simple things that make me smile.

What simple things to you do for others that make you smile?  

 

I joined up Ann Kroeker for her Food on Fridays Carnival.  Pop over there and read about her meditation on an onion.  I loved it!

 

 

 

Sunday Mornings

blueberries Blueberries. Pancakes. Maple Syrup.

What a perfect way to welcome Sunday morning…

I love cooking for my family.  With three teenage boys to feed, I have plenty of opportunities.  When they were young, the thought gripped me that they would only eat what I offered them.  Well, minus the carefully selected beetle or mud pie.  For the most part, I manned the food-gates in our home.

So, I began a quest to find a satisfying, nourishing, taste-appealing way to feed them – without going broke in the process!  Along the way, I discovered the treasure of Sue Gregg’s Blender Batter recipes.  These Sunday morning gems originated with her.

 

Blueberry Blender Pancakes
adapted from Sue Gregg’s  An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking

1½  cups cultured milk (ie. buttermilk, thinned plain yogurt, plain kefir)
2 T. melted butter or olive oil
1 t. vanilla extract
1 cup uncooked brown rice
½ cup uncooked rolled oats

Place all the above ingredients in a blender; blend at highest speed for 3-5 minutes.  Cover the blender and let stand at room temperature for several hours or overnight.

2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
1 t. salt, to tast

Sift the above ingredients through a small strainer into a small bowl.  Set aside.

In the morning, just before baking, add to the blender

1 egg
1-2 T. coconut flour (buy on-line here) OR  3-4 T. all-purpose wheat flour

Blend on highest speed for 1-3 minutes.  Add additional liquid if blender doesn’t blend easily. Then, briefly blend in leavenings and salt.  Assist with rubber spatula if needed.  Do not over mix.

Rinse off a couple handfuls of fresh blueberries.  Set close by to where you will be cooking the pancakes.

Grease griddle or skillet if needed and heat till water sizzles when sprinkled.  Pour about ¼ cup batter on griddle and quickly drop 3-4 blueberries in each pancake.  With a spoon, lightly cover each berry with additional batter.  This keeps them from cooking too quickly and burning when you flip your pancakes.

When pancakes start to firm up and bubble in the middle (about 1-2 minutes), carefully flip to other side.  Cook on second side about 1 minute.  Transfer to a cookie sheet while you cook the rest of the batter.  I like to cover my cooked cakes with a hand towel to keep them warm.

Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

…   …   …

Blueberry Pancakes

Last Sunday, sleepy-eyed and tousle-haired Andrew followed his nose into the kitchen and asked, “How many are you making, Mom?”

“The whole batch.”

“Just for us?”

“Yep.”

His smiles and hugs expressed his delight.

Andrew’s my youngest and is always ready to eat.  His older brothers were gone for the weekend, and Dad had already left for church.  This morning, it was just the two of us at table.

We both ate our fill, taste buds tingling with a burst of blueberry tartness, mellowed by maple syrup warmth.

I delighted in Andrew’s appetite.  A simple offering, eagerly enjoyed.  This mama’s heart brimmed.

 

What simple pleasures speak to your heart these days?

Why wait?

 

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately.  I must stay in your house today.”  Luke 19:5

I remember waiting for the bus to take me to ballet class.  Mom taught piano lessons after school, and I wanted to dance.  So, even though I was 13 or 14, I took the bus.

Shiny cars zoomed by as I sat on the bench alongside Whittier Blvd.  Every one moved with direction and purpose, the traffic thick with exhaust fumes and rattling mufflers.  I seemed to be the only one waiting.

Of course, if I wanted to catch the bus, I had to get there before it arrived.  The bus driver wouldn’t wait for me.  He didn’t know I would be there.  He would just pass by the spot if the bench was empty.

Waiting for him was the only way to be sure that I’d be there when he got to the bus stop.

So, with bag of toe shoes and leg warmers in hand, eager not to miss him, I’d wait.  And even though everyone else around me hurried by, I knew that to get where I wanted to go, I’d wait.  Waiting wasn’t fun, but dancing was.  The hope of dancing was worth the wait.

How like Zaccheaus.

Zaccheaus knew what he wanted.  He wanted to see who Jesus was.  He was curious. He wanted a glimpse.

But, his height, or lack of it, hindered him.  So he ran ahead to a tree along the road, scrambled up and waited.  He waited for who he knew was coming.  He got way more than he expected.

First, he did get to see Jesus. From his tree branch, he had a clear view over the heads of the crowd. That was all he wanted — curiosity satisfied.  But, then he also got Jesus’ attention.  At that spot, Jesus looked at him and called him by name and invited himself to dinner.

From then on, Zaccheaus needed more than just his curiosity satisfied.  He needed his soul satisfied.  Jesus would turn Zach’s world upside down, inside out, forever changed.

All from waiting alongside the road Jesus was taking.

I want to wait like that… expectant.

Instead impatient because it seems answers are taking too long.  Instead of anxious because I wonder if God remembers us.  Instead of fearful because what Jesus asks of us might be hard.

I want to wait knowing that whatever God has planned for us will be way better than what we’re hoping for, way more than what we expected.

There’s a spot.  A place where Jesus will look at me and call me by name and invite me to feast.  And if I’m not willing to wait, I might miss him when he passes by.

So maybe waiting is less about biding my time and more about positioning myself to see Jesus.

Thanks, Zaccheaus.  I’ll take that.

 

A picture of delight

As a homeschool mom, I love speaking in the boys’ creative processes.  For me, this mostly comes when I get to coach them in their writing and speaking.  My youngest, Andrew, has been working on descriptive writing the past few weeks.  I love his description of a barn.  Just to clarify, this barn only exists in his imagination.  We haven’t seen anything like this in Orlando!

I think it’s a nice picture of what “delight” looks like.  Enjoy.

***  ***  ***

by Andrew Sanders

Our barn stands at the base of the large hill, strong and steady, like a sentinel watching over his charge. White paint, slightly curling off the walls exposing the dark wood underneath, has taken on a shade of flecked eggshells. The hefty, humped roof, streaked with bird droppings, protects the interior with steadfast firmness, resisting the wind, rain, and snow. High windows offer the setting sun an opportunity spotlight the barn floor below.

Under the roof stands the darkest corner of the loft, which houses all of the precious gifts and heirlooms Ma and Papa want to keep: a chest full of great-grandpa’s letters from the war, Ma’s first sewing machine, and Papa’s first rifle. Heavy dust lights upon every surface coloring it silver gray, so different from the atmosphere on the floor below. The darkness coats everything within its boundaries with a soft, black, blanket, hiding both worthless boxes and priceless family heirlooms.

Moving toward the main space of the loft, bright lights hang from the rafters giving the space a playful air. Dry hay carpets the wooden panels that act as the floor, offering a soft cushion. Bales of hay lay strewn across the boards, creating benches and chairs for twirling ladies and gentlemen after dancing.

Connecting the levels with straight precision, firm ladders provide a means of moving from story to story. On the ground floor, freshly swept wooden planks look smooth, ready to support dancing feet. The smaller tools of farming, pitchforks, saws and hammers stand propped up or hung on the walls in neat order, cleared away from the main area to give more room for the jubilee. The animals are stowed away in their stalls far into the barn, away from the area for the dance. The cows, chickens, goats, sheep, and pigs, happily sound their own calls, oblivious to what was about to come but somehow affected by the joyful air.

 

 

 

photo credit:

Hearing my Name

“I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story, there is a story-teller.”  GK Chesterton

 

Mary Magdalene’s story grips me …

  He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?  Who is it you are looking for?”

            Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 

            Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

            She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”

 

I love her transparent grief.

I love her willingness to take care of Jesus.

I love that Jesus calls her name.

Mary.

He’s so personal.  So attentive.

I mean really, who in your life is like Jesus?  Who truly knows your name and says it with such tenderness?  Other people call me by name.  They identify the 5 letters, pronounce them correctly, and associate them with the body that I occupy.  They recognize my face and my voice.  On one level, many people know my name.  Maybe too many.

Julie.

Jesus knows the depth of my name.  He loves the sound of my name and the face that saying it brings to mind.  He knows my heart and fears and hopes behind my name… the things too sacred to say out loud.  He knows them.

Mary’s story in scripture only gives us a sliver of her whole story.  Before she encounters Jesus, we only know that she lived with “seven demons.” (Luke 8:1-3).  She may have had money, but she was evidently unmarried, as scripture never makes mention of her husband or family.

But Jesus changed all that.  When he called her by name, the demons fled and Jesus named her with dignity and worth and belonging.  He spoke life to her story and she loved him.  She followed him with devotion.

When we try to live our story without listening to the Story-teller, we wilt like plants that have struggled too long to survive on drips of water.  Life drains.  Color fades.  Fruit withers.

But Jesus with tenderness and authority says our name and everything changes.  We know that we are known.  Nothing hiding.  Nothing darkened by guilt and shame.  Our story takes on the identity of the Story-teller.  Our name is spoken fully and we know whose we are.

Julie.

I want to live there.  I want that for you, too.

 

One more thing from Mary’s story. I love the delight in Mary’s voice when she recognizes Jesus.

“Rabboni!”

She longed to see him – and he showed up.  Don’t miss that.  Jesus met her in her grief.  She had a one-on-one encounter with the risen Lord.  Not many people can claim that.

What would it be like to live there?  In that delight?

I pray that he’ll show me that bit of living out my story this year… the delight bit.

Maybe listening to him say my name is a good place to start.

 

 

blue rake photo credit: © Jesperjesper | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos

God’s Delight

He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me.” (2 Samuel 22:20)

I know I’ve been on a “David kick” for awhile.  I can’t help it. His story is so compelling, so riveting and real.  David’s humanness jumps off the pages of my Bible and causes me to deal… deal with my giants, my running … my God.

And I think I’m drawn to him because David was a writer.  He fills his psalms with vivid images from battle and natural disaster … and joy.  But, I wonder, how much of this is literal?  Did David actually see the Lord “route the enemy” with lightning bolts like arrows?  Did he honestly witness the “valleys of the sea laid bare” at the “rebuke of the Lord”?  Was David really drowning when the Lord “reached down from on high, took hold of [him] and drew [him] out of the deep waters” (2 Sam. 22.15-17)?

stockfreeimages.com

Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, after the years of running from his renegade, crown-usurping son, David must have felt relieved to be home in Jerusalem, secure from his enemies.  He finally had a place to rest; finally a place to retire his “looking over my shoulder, wondering what lies around the corner” instinct.

So, after all the trials and tragedy, here’s what David knows about this place, Jerusalem, this City of Shalom.

•  David knew it was the Lord’s doing that brought him here.  Everything David enjoyed was a movement of God on his behalf.  God’s strength, God’s victory, God’s help, God’s way… all led him here… to a spacious place of rest and provision.

•  David knew he was rescued.  He knew that he was completely dependent on God to act on his behalf… to draw him out of deep water, to support him when confronted by his enemies, to turn his darkness into light.  David is not passive, but he is dependent.  As one who is rescued, he knows his need.

•  David knew that he was the object of God’s delight.  He’s not God’s duty, not his project, not his anger, but God’s delight.  God’s laughter.  David knows he didn’t earn this position.  It was a gift, grace, unmerited favor.  God, in his joy, brought David to this place.

 

So here we are in a new place, Orlando, this city of Disney magic and palm trees.  Can I truly rest here?  Can I spread my arms, my concerns, my questions before the Lord and know his rescue and his delight?

With all the traffic and busyness, all the demands of school and grocery shopping and apartment living, I know I’ll experience the “spaciousness” metaphorically, not literally.  But, I do sense that this is what he wants to give us … space.

Many times, I think God’s direction would be easier to follow if he would literally lay the seas open bare and breath fire before me… scary, but easier.  Well maybe.  I want to know God’s intention in bringing us here.  I want to increase my dependence on him and experience his delight in me.  I think I will see those things through the eyes of faith.  Eyes that know the conviction of things hoped for and the assurance of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)

May I learn to see that way.

O Father, may we enter into the space you have provided, walk the path you’ve laid out before us.  Can you make it clear and well-lit?  But even if it’s not, we will trust you in the darkness.  

And Father, along the way, let us hear your laughter, the song of your delight.