Friday, July 26, 2013

Food on Friday: Company Cafe

So last night, Chance, Hudson, and I went on a "family date" to The Company Cafe on the Katy Trail. It's a gluten-free, local/organic (high quality) restaurant with a bunch of amazing menu items. Chance and I both opted for the free range beef burger with fries - sweet potato for me, and regular for Chance. They were AMAZING. Chance must have said how good his burger was about 200 times. We have a stuffed portobello mushroom for an appetizer, which was equally delicious. And for dessert: strawberry cake. Oh, so good. 
We would highly recommend this place-great, casual atmosphere, spectacular food, and high quality ingredients. Plus, you can eat outside at picnic tables and get lightly misted by water-spraying fans while you enjoy your meal. That was Hudson's favorite part :)  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Better Than A Million Quiet Times

Oftentimes when I think about my sanctification I have a cookie-cutter view of how God should conform me to Jesus' image. I think that godliness is akin to having hour-long devotionals and solid daily prayer time. However, God is challenging my thinking in significant ways by doing some serious heart work on me in this season of life. 

I love routine. I thrive on consistency, scheduling, and to-do list accomplishments. But recently I think I have come to love my schedule a bit too much. Since having Hudson almost six months ago, my daily plans have been consistently foiled. As I have mentioned before, Hudson is not a good sleeper. It has taken me a while to embrace that fact (and it is still a hard pill to swallow). He just does not sleep well, plain and simple. He has flucuated in his sleep difficulties from no naps, to multiple night-wakings, to breaking free of his swaddle, to rebelling against napping. All of this has been a serious source of frustration for me. Just this morning, after about a week of inconsistency and new changes to his sleep "style," I thought that I had had at least some success in his morning nap. I was proud of my seeming "success." As a result, I felt encouraged and joyful. But when he woke up after just 5 minutes of sleep, all those feelings went right down the drain. Why was I so frustrated all of a sudden? Why was I so surprised that he was awake? Why was I suddenly grumpy, irritable, and upset? I know why; the problem is my sin! 

Recently, I listened to a sermon by Tullian Tchividjian about his book "Glorious Ruin" that discusses the gospel in terms on the suffering that we all experience in this life. He talked about how unmet expectations are a very real part of daily suffering. I think that this pointedly describes one root cause of my frustration with Hudson's sleeping--my desire to control my circumstances. Since I function so well when I have consistency in my daily life (which is NOT bad!), I can become dependent upon my expectation that things will go "my way," and base whether or not I have a good day in accordance with how my expectations pan out. God has shown me, through my son, that God is the only one who is sovereign and in complete control. When I attempt to force control on my circumstances and become upset when my control is thwarted, I am in effect trying to be God. God is not pleased when I do this, because He alone is omnipotent and I am not.

Moreover, I have an idol of my schedule, and God is revealing that to me by forcing his hand of providence to intervene with my set plans. When what I did not expect to happen (e.g. Hudson waking up from his nap) happens, I end up getting frustrated with Hudson; I am really bowing down to my schedule/routine and making what I want to happen in my day the ultimate factor of a "good" day or "bad" day. This is idolatry for two reasons: 1) I am worshipping what is not God, and 2) I am basing my joy on what is not God. 

Thankfully, I have a good, sovereign, and gracious God who will not allow me to stay in this state of sin. Though I am discouraged when I see my sin so richly on display in my anger and frustration, He graciously reminds me that He has given me everything I need for life and godliness. God is so kind to not let me worship my schedule, my circumstances, or myself. He is too good and knows exactly what I need. For me, in this season of life, God is choosing to conform me to the image of Jesus by not giving me what I want (my perfect schedule!). He does this for my good and for His glory. I love him for his faithfulness and am thankful that He is so patient with me. 

I know that I recently written A LOT about this subject, but such is my life right now. I am learning the way in which God is choosing to sanctify me doesn't have to be through those lengthy Bible reading sessions or uninterrupted times of prayer. But since God is infinitely wiser than I am, I trust that this way of sanctifying me is better than a million quiet times. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Food on Friday: My Take on Lentil Soup

When Chance and I first got married, I started making a staple dish of "lentil soup". Over the months, through additions and experiments, it was converted to more of a lentil stew. Recently, I began adding some greens to the stew to make it a heartier, healthier, and more colorful version. It has become one of our favorite go-to meals! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. If you make it for yourself or others, please let me know!

1 cup (or a little more) lentils
1 onion, diced
1-1 1/2 cups of minced carrots - I do this in the food processor
1 bunch red swiss chard (or any other chard - I like red for the color)
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 can Italian stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 or more cups organic vegetable or low sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Saute onions, garlic, and carrots in olive oil until softened and onions are slightly translucent. Add oregano, salt, and pepper at this point. Add lentils, tomatoes, swiss chard, and broth. Cook on medium low heat for about 20-25 minutes. The lentils should be soft and not chewy when the soup is finished cooking. The soup (or stew) will have absorbed a lot of the broth, but if you like it more soupy then just add more broth to your liking! Bon appetit!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Food on Friday: Grillin'

So my dear husband, Chance, has been perfecting his skills on the grill lately. His very first grill experience was just a few weeks ago, as he mastered the art of Rib Eyes. It was risky business for his first time at the barbecue! Thankfully, the steaks turned out perfectly and our meal was a success. 

Yesterday, we went with the classic (chicken) hot dogs and bell peppers, for the Fourth of July. Tonight, we invited a friend to join us for grilled sausages, zucchini, and corn on the cob. We added some broccoli and sweet potatoes to the menu as well. To top the night off, Chance grilled some in-season peaches which we enjoyed with [lactose-free] ice cream. Needless to say, it was the perfect end to a beautiful summer evening. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sleep-Deprived But Not Theology-Deprived

The past few days were tough--I mean really tough, as far as sleep goes for the Sumner household. Hudson has learned this new trick where he can roll from his tummy to his back. This would be great, except for the fact that he still needs to be swaddled to sleep. This means that whenever he rolls around in his crib, he oftentimes gets himself too worked up and looks like a fish out of the water (minus the fins!). He had also decided that he didn't want to be put down in his crib without WAILING first for about 20 (or more) minutes...which made for some very confused, frustrated, and exhausted parents. 

Just yesterday, I prayed that the Lord would help me to see his goodness in light of his sovereignty in this situation. I also prayed that he would help me to fight my sins of frustration, anger, selfishness, and irritability, which were rearing their ugly heads as I listened to my screaming son. Helpless though I felt, I was comforted by the fact that God is in control of all circumstances and, in fact, he had ordained this for my good (Rom. 8:28). Not a few hours later, though, I was in tears as I attempted to put Hudson down for nap number two, while fighting the feeling of abandonment and loneliness. Where was God in this mom's sleep-deprived, exhausted, and tear-filled circumstance?! My perplexity led me back to what I had written in my journal just a few hours prior to that moment. The thoughts that I had written down were a reflection on the unchanging character of God. This bore fruit in my thinking in light of what I was experiencing. My theology brought stability to my troubled heart.

I wrote, "Although I am perplexed about Hudson's difficulty with sleeping lately, I have been able to remember a few things about God's character that have been truly comforting:
  1. He is good; he is always good (Ps. 119:68)
  2. He cares for me, and wants me to cast all my anxiety on him in humility (1 Pet. 5:6)
  3. He is my hope--not my circumstances (Rom. 8:25)
  4. He loves me (Rom. 5:5)
  5. He is at work in my heart, using my circumstances to conform me to the image of his Son, which is my ultimate good (Rom. 8:28)
So where was God when I couldn't see beyond nap time? He was with me and near me. Psalm 94:19 brought immense comfort as well. The verse reads, "When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your soothing touch makes me happy" (NET Bible). 

If you find yourself in unforeseen circumstances that threaten to steal your joy or cloud your view of God's goodness, ask yourself these questions: "Does my theology work for me or against me in a situation like this?", "Is God really in control of whether or not my son takes a nap this afternoon?", "Does he have a purpose in what is so seemingly mundane and inconsequential?" I believe that God governs every detail of our daily lives and uses them to mold our character to the likeness of Jesus. When I am sleep-deprived and teary-eyed, I should let what is true about God work to shape me into the image of Christ.

I hope I can live this out when it comes to bed time...