Friday, May 25, 2012

Food on Friday: Tribute to My Healthy Husband

That is hummus.. very garlick-y hummus.

I never thought that the day would come when I would be able to applaud and rejoice at my husband's eating. But that day has arrived! I'll give you a bit of a background story and then tell you why I am so excited. When Chance and I first met, he wasn't a terrible eater. He played soccer in college, and so "Caf" meals were what his diet pretty much consisted of. He grew up in a home-cooked family, where dinner was served every night - what a blessing. But he still had his learning to do. One instance I remember well, on a trip we took to Wal-Mart together, Chance decided he wanted to purchase "grape drink". Yes, that's right "grape drink". To my amazement, Chance was unaware that grape drink had actually NO real grape juice in it, but was basically sugar and water and high fructose corn syrup in liquid form: yummy. Over the years of our friendship, dating, engagement, and finally marriage food/diet has been quite a point of contention. We have had different views on what a "healthy diet" is actually made up of, and argued about whether "organic food" is really better for you. Well in the last few months, I am proud to say that through the education of multiple food documentaries that advocated plant-based diets, showed the health risks of the American diet, and gave us a real look at what is in the food that we put in our bodies, my husband is a convert. No more will he be buying foods with ingredients that can't be pronounced, and no more will we have 'discussions' about my seemingly picky food choices. I am very happy indeed. And I think that our relationship just got a whole lot sweeter. It's great to be able to agree on what is going on the table and into our bodies. I love my husband dearly, and I appreciate the fact that (although it took some well-done documentaries to convince him) he now sees my point of view. We will still have our disagreements, but I am happy to say that our diet will likely not be one of them. Thank you Lord for good food that treats our bodies right! And thank you Lord for my healthy husband!

*Note: even if Chance continued to eat some junk food here and there, I'd still love him unconditionally, it just makes grocery shopping and cooking a whole lot easier.*

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Thy Mercy, My God"

I have just been loving this song recently, I hope it encourages your soul as well.

Thy mercy my God, is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affections and bound my soul fast.

Without thy sweet mercy I could not live here,
Sin soon would reduce me to utter despair;
But, through thy free goodness, my spirits revive,
And he that first made me still keeps me alive.
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by the goodness I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I've found.

The door of thy mercy stands open all day,
To the poor and the needy who knock by the way;
No sinner shall ever be empty sent back,
Who comes seeking mercy for Jesus's sake.

 Thy mercy in Jesus exempts me from hell;
Its glories I'll sing, and its wonders I'll tell;
'Twas Jesus, my friend, when he hung on the tree,
Who opened the channel of mercy to me.

 Great Father of mercies, thy goodness I own,
And the covenant love of thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit, whose whisper divine,
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Appropriate Discontentment?

Perhaps you have heard the oft-quoted verse from Paul's letter to the Philippians, "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." (Phil. 4:11) And when you hear this verse, what specifically comes to your mind? Are we supposed to be content when we see ourselves constantly struggling with a particular sin? Or are we supposed to remain content when a family member is ill or dying? What about when we desire something good, like marriage or children, and are yet un-married and without children? I have been reflecting on the concept of "holy" or "spiritual discontentment" and would like to share my thoughts with you.

Again, what exactly is discontentment and how can we define it as either right or wrong? Well, the first thing we must do is measure of heart motives behind the discontentment we are facing, up against the Word. Earlier in the letter to the Philippians, Paul tells them to "Rejoice in the Lord always..." (v.4), and in his first letter to the Thessalonians he says, "Rejoice always...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (5:16, 18) So here we have two examples of the kind of constant rejoicing and thanksgiving that we as Christians must maintain in all circumstances. But what about some of the examples that I sited above? Well, John Piper sheds some helpful light on this area of "holy discontentment" in regards to spiritual leadership. As I purused an article written by him some years ago, he talks about a spiritual leader's optimism and zeal for change in accordance with their seeking of the Lord. A spiritual leader sees necessary and good changes to be made, and instead of being "content" in the current situation (or stagnant) he decides to move forward and do something about it! His motivation for fueling change can be called some sort of 'discontentment'.

I think about this type of discontentment in regards to sanctification as well. If we are honest with ourselves, none of us are as "spiritual" or "holy" as we would desire to be - and that's a good thing! A yearning for deeper fellowship or intimacy with God, greater knowledge of His Word, more of a sensitivity to one's own sin, and an increasing desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ - these are all good and necessary things in regards to our sanctification. We see ourselves in the mirror of the Word, and realize that we are not measuring up when it comes to evangelism, we are falling short in our discipleship efforts, and we lack zeal and endurance in prayer: we are discontent with our lives in ways that we should be. I have often felt this way. However, my holy discontentment can turn sour when I turn inwardly, and in self-pity, focus on what I am not, rather than who Christ is. Like I said, the longing to be more conformed to Christ's image is a good thing, but an attitude of self-pity, self-condemnation, or "woe is me" are not. We need to check our hearts and make sure that when those thoughts and attitudes begin to surface, that we are taking our longings to the Father who knows our desires and wants us to bring them to His throne of grace. After all His desire is for us to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Lastly, I want to address discontentment in circumstances vs. sanctification. We have talked about the latter in the previous paragraph, so let me address the former for a moment using an example from my own life. Some months ago after beginning my first full-time job [where I am still working now] I began to have this slight feeling of discontentment in where I was at. Not that I wanted a different job necessarily, but it was a dissatisfaction with my current occupation: a career woman, so to speak. Deep down the desire for motherhood began to form, along with all of its fears and hesitations. In light of that desire, I began asking God for clarity and discernment about what the timing of being a mother versus remaining faithful in my workplace, and what that would look like. Chance and I began praying about starting a family, and finally decided to move forward with that. Now you see? God used that discontentment with my current situation to spark a change in the direction that Chance and I were moving with our lives. But I would warn you to use much caution when evalutating this type of discontentment with circumstances - for there is a time for everything. God may not be calling you to change your life circumstances at all but to remain right where you are and to learn contentment in the midst of adversity or struggle. Always evaluate your heart in light of God's commandments and be sure to take your discontentment to the Lord in prayer - He is faithful and He will help you to know what He is trying to teach you through it.

Are you struggling with discerning some discontentment in your life? Please share your thoughts and concerns, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Psalm for Sunday

"You are good and do good; teach me your statutes." -Psalm 119:68

Friday, May 11, 2012

F.o.F: Lasagna for my Lover

Vegetable Lasagna Recipe

One of my husband's favorite things about being married is the fact that he gets to have homecooked meals with his wife (aww, so sweet I know). This is one part of being married that I also thoroughly enjoy. Now because I have multiple food allergies that Chance doesn't, sometimes I end up making 2 different meals for us. The meal that I make for him is usually something that he can take as leftovers, and eat for the next few days. This past week he mentioned how he missed lasagna. I have issues with lasagna - wheat pasta noodles & heavy ricotta cheese do NOT make for a happy wife-y if you catch my drift. So I found a recipe online and modified it with what I had on hand - it is vegetable lasagna that my husband described as "SO good, and so.. light!". I never thought the word "light" would be used to describe lasagna, but with all these veggies it's no wonder he enjoyed it so much :)
I hope that you can make it for someone you love, too.

recipe taken from - Cooking Light magazine 2001
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped
  • 3-4 carrots, diced in the food processor 
  • 1 chopped red (or green) bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup  white or sweet onion
  • 1 (26-ounce) bottle fat-free tomato basil pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1 (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 ready to bake lasagna noodles (I used Barilla) 
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and the next 4 ingredients (mushrooms through onion); cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add pasta sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Combine pesto and ricotta in a small bowl. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of a 8-inch square baking dish or pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodle halves over tomato mixture. Top noodles with half of ricotta mixture and 1 cup tomato mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining tomato mixture over noodles; sprinkle with mozzarella.
  4. Cover and bake at 375º for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.
  5. Notes: To make ahead, assemble as directed; stop before baking. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature; bake as directed. For easy cleanup, assemble in a disposable 8-inch aluminum-foil pan. If you're making for a gift, deliver uncooked with baking instructions.
For gluten-free/dairy-free people:

I made my own dish that consisted of all the sauteed veggies mixed with about a tablespoon of the sun-dried tomato pesto and 3/4 cup rice penne pasta! I through some dairy-free rice mozzarella cheese on top and had my own yummy "Italian" inspired dish that perfectly accommodated all of my allergies!

(note: the photo above I took off of the website for this recipe!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

List of Thankfulness

I have been reading through the Psalms (arguably my favorite book of the Bible) for some time now reading one or two a day. And I have noticed many things about the writers who include Asaph, David, Moses and the Sons of Korah: they are characterized by thankfulness. Many of the psalms, though not all, have themes of praise and thanksgiving weaved into the fabric of the verses. Psalms like 106 and 107 (in Book Five) describe periods of time in Israel's history when God did amazing things and the people are called to rejoice, give thanks, praise, and remember Him. Other psalms resound the steadfast love and abundant mercy of God time and time again - extended to his people who cry out to him and who fear him. So as I think about the thankfulness with which the psalmists write, I want to list some things that I am specifically thankful for today:
  • The intimate fellowship with God through Jesus Christ
  • Salvation by grace through faith
  • The presence of God's Spirit
  • My husband
  • My marriage
  • Our families
  • My hometown
  • God answering prayers
  • Our local church body
  • Seminary (& seminary wives)
  • The Word of Truth
  • Sweet friends
And just for fun:
  • New shoes
  • Running (as always)
  • Gluten free/dairy free birthday cake (but mostly gluten free cookies from Creme de la Cookie - courtesy of Ruth Poe!)
  • Springtime!
  • Birthday cards :)
  • My job
  • Car washes
  • Clouds in the morning
"Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" -Psalm 106:1

"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" -Psalm 107:1

"Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!" -107:8

"I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds." -Psalm 9:1

"Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!"
-Psalm 33:2

Isn't good to give thanks to the Giver?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Going Deeper in Discipleship

Our fast paced lifestyle is really not conducive to real life-on-life discipleship. I dislike that in our culture, discipleship can often feel so forced; that there are such things as “one on one” time or, scheduled coffee dates with mentors. Don't get me wrong, I have ALWAYS enjoyed these… but when I have begun to reflect on the efficiency and effectiveness, the authenticity and reality of discipleship in these contexts, it is becoming clear to me that more often than not these interactions feel stale and forced. Is this really "life on life"? Where's the spontaneity? Should there be any in discipleship? Or does discipleship mean "disciplined time" and "schedules"? There are a million books (okay maybe less) on question-asking, biblical counseling, solid relationship building techniques and for the most part they are helpful. I have really always functioned based on a schedule. In college especially, my sole focus was: effective time management. I was constantly trying to maximize my time in every place, circumstance, and interaction which meant that I was rarely “all there” in any one place, circumstance or interaction. My husband, when we dated, was quick to point this out, and now I am very grateful because it has indeed been for my betterment to see this tendency in myself. He has specifically helped me to see that slowing down, relaxing, and taking things one stride at a time is actually more beneficial. And throughout this process I have also come to realize that discipleship takes place one conversation at a time -- with intentionality and purpose.

I have been longing for and asking God for someone to disciple. I want to mentor a girl younger than myself, to counsel her and talk with her about her struggles as a teen or young woman navigating through this life trying to find who she is and what she was made to do. I have longed for a woman to do the same for me, and throughout the years I have had that, and I am thankful for those friendships, mentors, and women to look up to.
My mother, grandmother, Ann S., Melanie K., Mandy M., Erin H., and Sarah K. have all been women whom God has used to help me grow in this Chrstian life. But unfortunately, both due to my insecurity and a lack of desire to sacrifice time/energy [on the part of others] there has yet to be a woman in my immediate church context who comes alongside me and says, “I want to get in your life! I want to ask you hard questions! I want to disciple YOU!” Again, I have been thankful for the women that have graciously given of their time to let me ask them questions, advise me in matters too deep for me, and let me learn from their wisdom. Though, I see a lack in the church at large of women who aggressively, and intentionally seek out women younger themselves to actively disciple in this manner.

This is a tragedy in the local church! Jesus told his disciples (yes all of them were men, but look at Titus 2 ladies!) to “GO and make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded…I am with you always…” (Matt. 28:19-20). We can’t just wait around to have someone come and disciple us (I have learned that lesson) we must actively GO and be disciple-makers. If everyone were doing this, not only would you and I be discipled by someone else but we would be discipling others as well! What a sweet and joyous thought! Oh how we need God to grant us obedience in this area. It is a commandment and it is necessary. Yes, it takes self-sacrifice; yes it takes time and energy, effort and ability. But, whether you are a high schooler maturing in the faith, a college student learning zeal for Christ, a young wife practicing submission, a mother observing self-denial, or an aged, wise saint –we are ALL commanded to make disciples. We all have our unique experiences, testimonies, wisdom, and knowledge that we can lend to other generations (both below and above us). Let’s pray that God would give us each a woman (or maybe more than one) to disciple and teach for the glory of His name.

(Note: After writing this.. I think God has answered my prayer!)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Trip to Trader Joe's

On my journey last week, to my hometown of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, my mother, grandmother and I stopped by our local Trader Joe's. I know I have written elsewhere on this blog about grocery stores, but this store is by far my favorite. I love all of the unique packaging, interesting combinations of ingredients, and rare concoctions that you can find there. Whenever this store popped up in our local "Village" (only Grosse Pointers will get that reference) most citizens of the GPs were skeptical at first -- but Joe's instantly became a hit! My mom loves to shop there because they have such an extensive list of gluten free foods-very much a blessing to her. Well, while I was in college, my sweet mother began sending me packages of fall-inspired treats to alleviate my Floridian woes (haha) and remind me of my hometown: maple-flavored cookies, pumpkin bread mix, and of course my favorite -- dark chocolate-covered espresso beans.
So while I was back up in Grosse Pointe last week, I picked up a container of them and have been popping a few every day since I got back to Dallas. Lucky for me, my husband doesn't like dark chocolate! Oh and rumor has it that Trader Joe's is coming soon to Dallas - yippee! I won't have to wait until my next visit to Grosse Pointe to get my d.c.e. bean "fix" (had to abbreviate that one).

The real reason my I was up in Michigan though, wasn't to get my candy cravings satisified, but to CELEBRATE! On Thursday and Friday my family had the privilege of seeing my sweet sister graduate from the University of Michigan with her master's degrees. Also, I got to help throw her a bridal shower tea party on Saturday which was a ton of fun! I made little sachets of homemade tea (with mom's help) and gave them out as party favors to the guests. Thank you Martha Stewart - can't take credit on my own for that one. Here's a picture of the family:

We are all so proud of her!
(Note: I do not advocate 'addictions' of food and am very cautious about my use of terms like "fix" in regards to food. See other pages like Food & Eating for reasons why)