Wheres the Food?

In my efforts to blog more these past few weeks, I’ve realized I have not blogged about food once. I haven’t blogged about food in a while. And this blog is named after an inspiration I had while cooking (http://tinyurl.com/2c3f4wr). It may be that I was so busy as the semester progressed not to take the time. Or it may be that I still don’t have software on my computer for my camera and have to rely on Matt’s. Or it may just be that I haven’t done much cooking these past weeks.

But today I’ve made my favorite Gluten Free Cornbread from the Gluten Free Girl (http://tinyurl.com/29r86ya). And our dear friends, the Thompsons, sent a big box of gluten free goodies to us last week…with a asian stir fry mix just waiting for me in the cupboard.

My brother in law, Tim, used to live with us and was the biggest fan of my cooking (second to Matt). He’s a vegetarian, a bachelor, and a pretty simple guy. So, whenever I’d be making a meal he could enjoy, he’d stand by the stove and waft in the scent…which resulted in cursing exclamations (and sometimes a bit of grunting) about how good the food smelled. It makes me laugh just to think about it! Such a compliment.

Tim sometimes asks me for new recipes. I haven’t had any in quite a while. But with the semester starting tomorrow and a tired palate, I’ve spent the last 3 days searching out new things to try and organizing my Black Book of recipes. So, this one is for you, Timmy. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m making it this week and I think it suits both our fancies and our budgets:

Chickpea Pasta with Almonds and Parmesan (c/o Real Simple Magazine)

1T olive oil

3 cloves garlic (or 1.5t canned garlic)

7 cups vegetable or chick broth

1/2t crushed red pepper

3/4t salt

1lb pasta

1-15.5oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1c flat leaf parsley, chopped (or a couple T dried parsley)

1/4c roasted almonds, chopped

1/2c grated parmesan

To Prepare:

1. Heat oil in large saucepan on med-high. Add the garlic and cook 1 min.

2. Add the broth, pepper flakes, and 3/4t salt and bring to boil.

3. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally for about 6 min until pasta is al dente. Water should absorb.

4. Stir in chickpeas and parsley. When serving, top with parmesan.

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Awakening a Heart of Prayer

The Lord has been awakening my heart these few days. Coming off an indulgent holiday of food, “relaxation,” coffee, sleep, and many other things in excess, I’ve been longing for a new heart. And He’s answering. I’m not one for too much regiment in my relationship with Jesus (which I lament), but he is beginning to awaken a desire for commitment to a couple of things in my heart.

I’m sure having a highly regimented husband helps this. Matt read a few weeks ago about a group of people who are committing to memorizing Philippians (a short but packed book of the Bible) by Easter. He asked me to memorize it with him. I’ve never done anything like this before. We are six verses in.

Perhaps I’m wanting to fight stagnancy (just made that word up). I don’t know what is pushing me, really. But I’ve been hearing about believers in Christ all over the world who are persecuted, arrested, blown to smitherines (not my words). And what am I doing to encourage them? To pray for them? When we ask in faith, He responds to our prayers. So, my heart is moved to pray. To pray for one country a month in 2011. That Jesus would be made known in these places.

First: Iran. No question, this was the first country on my heart. While studying in Germany in college, I had three friends from Iran. In an email a few years later, one of them told me he was glad about my religious fervor and that our faiths are the same. My heart sank…I didn’t know how to tell him “No, my Jesus is unlike any other!” And if I tried, I couldn’t be sure my email would even reach him.

So, in January, I am learning about and praying for Iran. Want to join me? The first thing I learned today: Iran is situated in between Iraq (on the west) and Afghanistan (on the east). I may have known this, but I sure was surprised today…knowing America has been fighting wars all around Iran for the past decade…I will pray for the people in the middle.

ending the binge

SLOW. that’s how i’d describe the last few days. we are home, the holidays are over, and we are moving toward getting back into routine as the semester starts monday. but the late mornings in bed do not want to fade the way i’d like them to…my new flannel sheets entice and bid me not to leave the coziness of the bed when morning comes. if i don’t fight the temptation, monday will bring a rude awakening!

Jesus has also been renewing our hearts these past few days. is it just me (certainly it’s not), but does our relationship and closeness to Christ seem to flounder during the exact season when we are celebrating his birth? perhaps it’s all the traveling and not being at home in our routines, long 3 week vacation (for us students), or all the presents. i know my heart does not feel as distant from God at Easter…so it’s something about the way we celebrate Christmas, i’m sure. i lament this, and i’m not sure how to combat it. do i just hope for the best next year and not develop a plan of attack? that certainly won’t do.

we are in this sunday school class at church for young married people. just got an email saying we are starting a new book/video series on how to be a contagious christian. i must admit, my first reaction was “not too interested.” not because i think being contagious is unimportant, but because i think “i’ve got it down. i’ve arrived.” who am i kidding!? if that were the case, everyone i came in contact with would want to know jesus. i was convicted shortly thereafter, thinking about a relationship where i treat the person just as the world would, rather than welcoming her back with love and acceptance, despite what she’s done and my not knowing the whole story. i am not like jesus, and i’ve got a long way to go.

matt and i have been asking ourselves a lot lately what it means to be jesus to the world. that’s what he’s asked us to do. and christians in our society aren’t looking that different from those who don’t believe. sure, we talk…but how is that language translated into action? we watched a couple of sessions from the Passion conference this week, and the host/emcee got me with this: “Christian does not mean Jesus to our world.” people will continually affirm that yup, god is great. but they often don’t mean God, and rarely mean Jesus.

jesus’ words and life were a lot for people to swallow in his day. he’s not a cozy guy with perfectly parted and combed hair stroking a lamb and holding a staff (think i stole that from john eldridge). today, James 1:26-27 got me:

26If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

i’ve been shaken…i don’t want worthless religion. but will i act? i don’t know. the second part of that verse…to visit orphans, got me too. twice now in two days, my heart has been moved for fostering children in our home. we have several friends who do this and it is beautiful. hard, to be sure. but i was thinking: we have limited pace, are highly mobile (move a lot), and want to go to Chicago for the summer. is this even possible? i just keep thinking if we wait and wait and wait, some children will grow up never having been cared for in a home. can i see if we even ‘qualify’? definitely.

i think that’s all for now…a lot of thoughts for sure. my To Do list is lengthier than i thought. so i better get going…

more thoughts on the uniform project

I took a little time to reflect on my time with the Uniform Project and wearing one dress for 30 days. Here are my thoughts, and you can read more about Amy’s journey at amyseiffert.com

My final week with the Uniform Project was a little rough to be honest. It was finals week. I was holed up in my office for days on end. I was exhausted, staying up until the wee hours of the morning and then crashing until the sun peaked in my windows. Coming up with unique and fun outfits for my dress was the last thing on my mind. At least, when I did think about it it was more of a burden than not. I even resorted to wearing my dress over my sweats one day….and my sweats don’t even match…needless to say (or maybe it’s needed?) I did not leave the house that day! But when Wednesday finally arrived, my first day to wear whatever I wanted in the whole wide world…okay, in my whole wide closet, the result in my heart was rather anti-climactic. My regular clothes felt just as ho-hum as the pink dress I had been wedded to for 30 days. Perhaps it was because I was still finishing my finals, but I’m not entirely convinced. I think part of it is that we think freedom equates with happiness. That to be able to choose will always make us happy…to choose what to eat, what to wear, what job to have, where to live, what faith to follow, what type of government to live under. But the Lord wants us to be content…happiness is not always the goal.

I think of Paul, writing to the Philippians in chapter 4, v. 12:
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

The NIV puts it this way:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I think my heart can be content in a variety of circumstances and under constraints it is never required to experience. Wearing one dress for a month certainly is not much of a “need.” But it has uncovered my unconscious belief that more clothes to choose from, new things, whatever, will bring me happiness. But Paul knew the secret…contentment comes from God alone.

i made it!

“made what?” you say…well, that’s fair. i certainly can’t expect you to be in my loop if i never blog about it!

two things actually. ONE: i completed my month with the UNIFORM PROJECT on tuesday. and TWO: i successfully completed my first semester of graduate school at about 1am today. taken together, this is cause for celebration!

first, the UNIFORM PROJECT:

i successfully made it through one month of wearing the same dress every day. yup. you can read about the project here: http://wp.me/pWkTj-Z. i joined my friend amy seiffert on her 6 month journey to simplify her wardrobe and innovatively raise awareness about and money for the DAUGHTER PROJECT…a group who seek to free young girls and boys from sex trafficking right here in ohio. unfortunately, the toledo area is one of the top three cities in the nation for sex trafficking, partly because it is home to the junction of the turnpike and I-75. we want to help them in their mission to free these girls and boys, restore their lives with beauty and grace, and show them God’s love and care for them. i’m honored to join my friend in this mission.

one of the greatest lessons from the uniform project (and totally unrelated to its purpose) is how much you can get away with socially. having decided to wait until someone asked me about the dress, it took until day 4 for my firend Hannah (who sees me daily) to ask “Is there a reason you’re wearing that dress every day?” but no one else ever asked me after that. nope. not even one.  in a department of social scientists, not a single person asked. do people think i’m just that weird? or did they really not notice? i’m going to go with the latter. and i think that’s fair, because some of my trendy oxford friends were completely oblivious until i pointed it out to them. conclusion: i could do much weirder things and i guarantee i will not end up on what not to wear.

this leads me to my next point. if i am able to come up with a unique outfit every single day for 30 days and incorporate a pink dress into the outfit without looking horrendous, what does that say about the amount of clothes i own? i can certainly live with less and forego buying new things for quite some time (which is good, because i’m a grad student on a budget. as long as i get some new underwear before i graduate…)

so what does it mean to give, and to give sacrificially to a cause, a church, a child? matt and i have been thinking about that a lot lately as we have limited resources but want to be involved in the work God is doing in our community and around the world. looking for places to trim our budget (partly in order to provide for ourselves…not all of our motives are others-focused…although being responsible allows us to give more freely), i have come to view coffee, even the bottom-shelf-store-brand a luxury. i am reminded of a guy i once read about on the New York Times who said he surely wouldn’t be using his food stamps for luxuries like coffee but instead chooses simple foods to nourish his family. i wonder what it looks like to choose sacrifice as a believer in christ, foregoing self-indulgence and guilty pleasure so that the gospel might go forward to more people than we ever imagined.

but the LORD longs to give good gifts to his children, lavishly blessing them. this month, i was so blessed, thinking daily about my friend and her dress adventures, texting photos of outfits, and sharing about this cause.

here are some of my best outfits. you can give by going to: thedaugtherproject.org under donate.

more pics to come soon…

getting ready

it has been much too long. but i have news.

i am getting ready. to join ame. tomorrow we start. me – one month. ame – 6 months. one dress a piece. tomorrow, the much awaited and anticipated UNIFORM PROJECT begins. haven’t heard of it?

http://theuniformproject.com/#!about

she did it for 365 days. i’m doing it for 30. or 31. i’m still not sure. but i’m in! we’ll see how this goes. and if you want to keep up with my friend, amy, check her out at www.amyseiffert.com.

a new thing

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert.   -Isaiah 43:19

…a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…the Lord is a trailblazer. Talk about creativity and ingenuity. As I’m starting to write papers and tackle midterms, I remind myself over and over, like a broken record, that it is the Lord who empowers me to accomplish these tasks at all.

Matt and I have been talking about what it looks like to be students again (he’s in seminary now) and when things feel overwhelming we know that his only requirement of us is to make a good faith effort in all that we do. And HE will make the way when we can’t see it.

I love the ‘rivers in the desert’, because what desert has a lush, flowing river, filled with life running through it? Our desert, his river. And he calls it a new thing…something he’s never done before, something he does especially for you.

I’m enjoying the discovery of what he’s doing for me. It springs forth. He says it will jump out in front of me, so don’t miss it. I’ve got my eyes wide open Lord, not wanting to let your glory pass by unaware.

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