Waking Up Again

fog

Photo by NicholasBellPhoto on etsy.com.

My man and I went to a Tyrone Wells concert this weekend and one of his opening acts was this darling beauty, Emily Hearn. I’d never heard of her before – but, when she began singing, the rain we had run through, the tough week I’d had, the heaviness of my heart in that moment… all of it melted into her song, “Waking Up Again“:

It’s been so cold for so long now…
I don’t remember what the sun feels like.
We’re gettin’ old inside this house…
I don’t remember what the breeze feels like.
We gotta go… we gotta get back… gotta get our feet back on the ground.
We gotta go… we gotta get back… gotta get the spring back in our step again.

My heart. Right there in that dark theater, this sweet 24-year-old girl was singing my song. It didn’t matter that our souls are almost 20 years apart… what she was feeling that led to the song, and what I was feeling in my mommy skin. Sameness. Humanness. Connection.

(I ran out and bought both of her albums – and now I suggest you do, too.)

The reason her song hit me so hard is because I’ve been feeling this for a while… this no-spring-in-my-step, chilly, getting old kinda feeling. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s my scattered nature. Maybe it’s the white hair I found the other day, or the fact my exercise pants are fitting wayyyyy tighter than they did a few months ago. But, whatever it is, it’s had me kinda uninspired on the inside. Not sad or depressed – just ‘keep your head down and keep pushing forward’ kinda uninspired. I’ve had writers block, we’ve been eating a ton of burritos, and – well, if I’m really honest, I’ve been walking around and around and around in a fog.

Fog walking is a seasonal thing for me. I go through periods where I’m walking a defined path towards a goal – getting things done, creating new things, dreaming big dreams… but then there are periods like this one I’ve been in: wake up, make food, wash laundry, clean house, get kids, make food, rinse, repeat. It’s two steps forward, three steps back – day in, day out.

But then something shakes me like Emily’s song did… and, all of a sudden, I’m reminded of what the real problem is: ME.

I. Am. The. Problem. I beckon the fog with my whoa-is-me attitude and my ‘if-only’ internal dialog.

It’s hard to admit, especially when it’s so easy to place the blame for my heavy spirit on the ‘if-only’: if only I didn’t have so much to do, so many people pulling at me, so many obligations. If only my kids would listen better… if only I had more help… if only I wasn’t overlooked… if only we had more space… if only… if only… if only.

‘If only’ seems so safe and secure when it first steps in – but soon, the ‘if only’ thoughts have me bound up, beaten up, and broken into bits.

Thinking through all of this I remembered something Jesus said in one of his sermons: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

Oh man, how convicting! When I dwell where I should – in Truth, beauty, loveliness, goodness, thankfulness – I feel lit up; I’m happy, ready to serve, not easily offended, and other-focued. But, when I choose to dwell where I shouldn’t – in self-centeredness and selfish thoughts about what I need, I want, I deserve – the darkness and the fog closes in… just like Jesus said would be the case.

I’m sharing this with you today because maybe you need to see you’re not the only one that feels like you’re in a fog… and maybe you need to hear the Truth I’ve heard: where I am is a result of my choices. If and when we choose Light – we will be filled with Light and be light; if and when we choose fog – the fog will gladly close in around us and strangle our joy in the darkness.

So, let’s choose to see Light and be freed from the darkness of the fog, okay? Let’s wake up again – right now, right here, right where we stand. Let’s wake up to His goodness… and let’s get the spring back in our steps and bask in the warmth of the His Light.

Think On These Things

A good memory from a warm summer day years ago… I wonder what caught our attention?

Last night the kids and I ended up at my computer watching videos from when they were little.

Yes, it was bedtime; and, no, I didn’t plan to make it a hang out time with the kids… I was simply on a mission to find a photo one of the kids has asked me for.

But all of a sudden, there we were: my boy on my lap, my girls leaning on each of my shoulders. We were scrunched into a 2×2 foot space, bodies touching, breaths warm… and we were laughing.

Laughing! Free!

Closeness and kindness and joy was filling us up and overflowing and we were swimming in good memories and sweet thoughts.

The kids were saying things to each other like “you were so cute when you were little!” and “oh my gosh, you still make that face!”; and, they find lots of opportunities to mock my ‘mom voice’ (you know, the voice that comes out when we moms take videos of cute things are kids are doing).

We laughed until we were literally crying.

Honestly, though, it was an experience I don’t get much of these days. Yes, we love each other. Yes, we’re close and bonded and thankful to be a family. But here’s the reality: family life can be tough.

There’s bickering and fighting. There’s complaining for space, lots of ‘leave me alones’, and a struggle for independence that comes harder and faster each day the kids get older. There are things to do, places to go, responsibilities to be responsible with. There are stresses, and tears over homework, and yelling, and door slamming. And, while we don’t mean it to, all the day to day messiness often blurs our minds to the truth.

What truth?

The truth that we are human and broken… and all in need of grace….

The truth that we love each other madly and deeply…

The truth that we are who we are because we are together…

The truth that we couldn’t get through life without one another…

The truth that we are each God’s greatest gift to each other…and

The truth that sometimes renewing our joy in the journey begins with stopping to remember where we’ve come from.

Going through the photos and the videos of the ‘good days’ reminded us of where we’ve been: we’ve shared pillows for naps, had dance parties in PJs, made up songs about hot sauce, and taken baths with so many bubbles we thought we’d lose each other. We’ve kissed at monuments, had soggy diapers, cried when we dropped cookies, and helped each other up when we’ve fallen. We’ve made forts out of flowered sheets, set out buffets for stuffed animal families, and squished into beds together because being alone in our own was way more uncomfortable.

We’ve cried… but we’ve also laughed our way through our lives together.

One of my favorite verses in the bible says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is TRUE, and HONORABLE, and RIGHT, and PURE, and LOVELY, and ADMIRABLE. Think about things that are EXCELLENT and WORTHY OF PRAISE. (Philippians 4:8).

Let’s do that today. Let’s rebel from the thoughts that tempt us to bitterness and let’s fill our minds with GOOD things. Let’s go through old photos and videos, put new pictures in our frames… let’s surround ourselves with the TRUTH about our lives: we are blessed.

We are blessed. We are needed. We are right where we are supposed to be.

My Out-of-Character Purple Quinoa Soup

We’re officially into summer, but here in Oregon the rain hasn’t stopped. It’s been dreary – just a little chilly. So, last night I decided to make soup for my family to warm us up from the inside out.

I had a beautiful head of red cabbage that I sautéed with some garlic and onions and then simmered in chicken broth. I added cooked quinoa and I seasoned the soup with cinnamon, fennel, and bay leaves. I added a little fresh lemon zest, a dash of sea salt and pepper, and served it with some fresh diced cilantro over the top. It was hearty, chalk full of nutrients, and the flavor was absolutely divine!

The one thing I didn’t bank on, however, was that my beautiful cabbage would go crazy in the pot. As it simmered, my good intentioned meal went from a pot of deliciousness to a big lavender-colored stew. The more lavender it got, the more my stomach sank. Yes, it smelled amazing – and it tasted amazing… but let’s get serious: no matter how spectacular my intentions and the flavors were, it was purple soup.

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Even my man, who loves everything I cook, opened the pot and gave me a look like, “You serious?”

“It tastes amazing,” I said encouragingly. “I know it doesn’t look so great – but wait til you try it.”

I ladled it into bowls for everyone and, as the kids approached the table and saw servings of purple, I got one, then two, then three, “What is this?”

Again, I let out a little laugh (and a prayer they’d eat it since I had no backup plan) as I said, “You’ll love it – I promise!”

Long story short, my prayer was answered and everyone finished their dinner. Surprisingly, there was no complaining, no sounds of disgust – they just ate. Their eyes were half closed with every bite – but they ate nonetheless. (My man even went back for seconds.) Then, as they left the dinner table satisfied, and warm, and full up on nutrients, I even heard, “Gosh, mom, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.”

But, can I tell you something?

I was absolutely shocked they ate that soup. S.H.O.C.K.E.D. It was the ugliest bowl of soup I’ve ever consumed in my 40 years of life – and, hands down, it was the ugliest meal I’ve ever put in front of my family in all the years I’ve cooked for them. Maybe it’s just me – or us… but purple is not meant for soup. Purple is meant for hydrangeas, or skittles, or a snazzy handbag that gives a pop of color to a boring outfit. But soup? No thanks.

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So, what gives then? How is it that my family got past the ugly flag that soup was waving and managed to discover it really was tasty?

I am convinced my family got past the ‘ugly’ because they know my ‘cooking character’. They enjoy my cooking night after night. They see the groceries I bring home; they know the flavors I play with; they’ve grown to trust how I put ingredients together; and, they are confident I cook, not to punish them, but to satisfy and nourish them with all things good. They’ve seen my ‘cooking character’ in the kitchen so regularly that, in spite of this total bomb, they knew they could trust I would never in a million years serve something that tasted disgusting… and that meant they simply ignored the ugly flag and dug right in.

With all that said, I turned off the kitchen lights last night with this quote floating through my mind:

My soup? It spoke really, really bad of me last night. Thankfully, though, I’ve lived out enough love in my kitchen that no one believed it to be true.

Real Beauty

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Romans 12:2

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I’ve watched this several times now, and I cry each time. I cry because… I hear the voices.

…the voice of the girl in 5th grade that said, “Why is your forehead so big?”

…the voice of the old boyfriend that said, “You know, there are lots of girls more beautiful than you.”

…the voice of the ballet teacher that said, “Your knees are way to big to ever dance well.”

…the voice of the world telling me all my life, “You know you’ll never measure up to that… to her… to ‘something wonderful’.”

I look at the women that went through this exercise, and… I relate. I feel their weight of their heart and their self-descriptive words. I see the girl in me: Insecure, critical, self-deprecating. And that girl – oh, my heart aches for that girl that I was (and can still be).

But thankfully, the Sweetest Voice I’ve ever heard breaks through all the noise. It’s a voice unlike any other – it’s small and quiet and whispers drips of Truth into my heart.

And the Truth is this – the Truth I wish I would have known before a I allowed all those other voices a place in my soul: We are not beautiful because of what we look like; our real value is not determined by our appearance.

Beauty isn’t the exterior. It doesn’t come from fixing up our hair and putting on makeup and letting it all hang out for ‘admiration’. (1 Peter 3:3-4). No. That’s the world’s definition – the definition that keeps us women hostage and broken and vulnerable.

The Sweet Voice told me (and continues to remind me every day) beauty is borne in gentleness, in sweetness, in a laugh, and a friendly wink, and soft words that build others up and not tear them down.

Beauty is confident and strong, yet humble; it is modest and captivating, bright and gracious.

Beauty is tenderness with my babies.

Beauty is a confident, lingering kiss with my man.

Beauty is my uncontrollable laughter with my girls that brings out every wrinkle around my eyes.

Beauty is my warm arms wrapped around a sister in need.

Beauty is heavy tears shed with a friend over loss, or heartache.

Beauty is thoughtfulness and unselfish presence and compassion.

Beauty is kindness to a stranger.

Real beauty emanates from me when His Spirit emanates from me… when His brightness overtakes the darkness that struggles to keep it’s hold on me. It’s when His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control trump my human tendencies to be anything but. (Galatians 5:22-23).

Real beauty isn’t dependent on what I look like… real beauty is Him living out through me.

So, today: LET’S BE REAL BEAUTIES – REBEL BEAUTIES. Let’s remember that we can’t make this dark world more beautiful with more lipgloss – we can only make it more beautiful when the fruits of His Spirit bloom on the trees of our lives. (Psalm 90:17).

A Dish With Heart: Rustic Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart

Something you might not know about me is this: I was not raised to cook.

My entire life my nana lived with us and she was our nourisher. She made all our meals – from our breakfast toast and coffee, to our after school meal of chicken soup and rice. While she was forced to use a conventional stove while we lived in California, when I was seven we returned to Guam – and she returned to her true comfort zone: her outdoor kitchen.

My sweet nana in the early morning – protecting her hair from the humidity

All the cooking I remember as a child was done over an open fire in a tiny 8×10 tin shack – aka the ‘outdoor kitchen’. Pots black from smoke from the fire. A knife that likely harkened back to WWII days that was so blunt and worn down, and with a blade that curved upwards like the back of a stretching cat. A rusty fridge. A lightbulb hanging by an extension cord that ran out the propped open tin window and into the main house. An old 1960’s rejected office desk with rocks for feet that slanted sideways and made my soup run for one corner of the bowl. Her kitchen smelled of the jungle, and savory meats, and wild chickens – and mosquitos ate me up every time I sat to a meal.

My nana’s kitchen was my heaven.

Growing up with a nana that cooked for me, though, meant that I never was really ‘taught’ anything. I watched. I asked questions about dishes as I got older. But my ‘cooking’ was never more than opening a can of green beans that I’d eat straight with a fork.

Fast forward to today.

I don’t have my nana anymore… but, what I do have is her heart.

My nana’s heart was always to serve and comfort through her food. She cooked to lure you into conversation over a perfectly percolated cup of coffee and inch-thick pancakes or handmade tortillas. She cooked to care for you and to love you – to show you she was thinking of you.  She cooked to wow you with what she could do with a small piece of chicken and some vegetables out of her garden – and to hear you say, “Thanks, nana, that was delicious. I love you.”

So, I cook… and, when I do, I take pleasure in creating things like this:

Mushroom and Black Olive Goat Cheese Galette

Mushroom and Black Olive Goat Cheese Galette

Believe it or not, this amazingly beautiful galette (tart) is sooo easy, so delicious… and soo worth the effort when you see how others respond to this work of art.

Here’s the recipe… but you have to promise: you’ll give it your heart and give it a try whether you were ‘raised to cook’, or not.

For the crust:
The crust is a very basic everyday galette crust and will make TWO galette crusts:

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 10-14 TBSP ice water
  1. Using a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt several times until mixed well.
  2. Add the cubed butter and pulse 8-10 times. (NOTE: DO NOT OVERPULSE. The key to having a flaky pastry crust is making sure the butter (the fats) remain about pea-sized.)
  3. Slowly add the water about 2 TBSP at a time and pulse once or twice after each addition. The dough should begin to clump, but will still be very dry in the bowl of the processor.
  4. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and begin lightly kneading the mixture until it all begins to stick together. (If it is still too dry, drizzle a little more water (about a tsp at a time) into it and toss the mixture with a fork. You want the dough to be sticky enough to adhere together without crumbling, but you don’t want it to be wet. Also, do not over-knead.)
  5. Form two discs out of the mixture, sprinkle flour over the discs, and wrap in plastic. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to using. (If you won’t be using both, you can freeze the extra one for later.)

At this point, preheat your oven to 425 with the rack in the center of the oven, and place a cookie sheet on the rack to heat along with the oven.

For the filling:

  • EVOO for pan
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced and mashed
  • 1 TBSP capers
  • 16-20 small white and brown mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 2/3 can black olives, crushed (NOTE: I drain the olive can and then I pour the olives right into my hand over the pan and crush the olives between my fingertips as I drop them in to cook)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Goat cheese
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, washed and sliced in quarters
  • Fresh arugula (see blow)
Up close...

Up close…

  1. Sauté all ingredients until mushrooms are tender. Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. On floured surface, roll out one of the disks until the dough is about a 12″ diameter and 1/4″ thick.
  3. Spoon your mushroom mixture into the center of the disc leaving approximately 2-3″ of space around the outside of the filling. (You might have a little filling left over – and it’s delicious right out of the pan.)
  4. Sprinkle your diced cherry tomato pieces and crumble goat cheese over the whole thing.
  5. Fold the outer edges of the dough over the filling in an accordion fashion to slightly cover the edge of the filling. Wash the exposed dough with egg wash (basically an egg with a drizzle of water, whisked until light).
  6. Here is where you might need some help – and you will definitely need patience: Remove the pre-heated cookie sheet from the oven and place it beside your prepared galette. Carefully, using an extra wide spatula and your hands, gently lift the galette onto the hot pan. (NOTE: The key is to support the bottom of the galette as securely as possible so that it doesn’t fall through when you move it. It’s okay if it looses some of it’s shape – just reshape it as best you can when it hits the hot pan.)
  7. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Toss some fresh arugula with a light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and spread across the top of the warm galette before serving.

That’s it! When I serve it I cut it in four quarters, and then each quarter into a quarter (like a pizza). It’s a great appetizer – and definitely a perfect ‘wow’ dish to take to a potluck.

Now… go cook with some heart! And, nana: I’m thinking of you today…

My nana - dish towel on her shoulder as she shooed me to the kitchen to eat

My nana – dish towel on her shoulder as she shooed me to the kitchen to eat

Rebel on,
Elisha

It’s Valentine’s Day: Eat Sexy Quinoa

Okay, since it’s Valentine’s day and “love is in the air” as my 5-year old proclaimed this morning, I must post a sexy quinoa recipe.

Yes, I said “sexy quinoa”. Did you know it could be so?

Well, when you pair it with some foods touted as “aphrodisiacs”, there is nothing ‘blah’ about this favorite superfood of mine. To the contrary: what you get is a sexy, flavorful, spicy, ‘I want some more’ salad you’ll want to make over and over (whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not).

Lookie lookie:

A Sexy Quinoa Salad with Pomegranates, Basil, Ginger, Banans, Honey, and Crushed Chili Peppers

A Sexy Quinoa Salad with Pomegranates, Basil, Ginger, Banans, Honey, and Crushed Chili Peppers

Here are your ingredients… and, if you click on the links, you’ll learn why each ingredient is prized as a ‘sexy’ food:

  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1 small fresh banana, sliced into quarters and then diced
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, diced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • a sprinkle of dried chili pepper flakes (how hot can you handle it?)
  • 1 TBS honey and a splash of water
  1. Mix all ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Warm the honey and water in the microwave for about 15 seconds so that it is pourable, and pour it over the salad.
  3. Stir thoroughly so that all ingredients are coated in honey.

It would make a great pre-dinner treat, or a really nice dessert salad to cleanse the palate.

Hey, maybe you just make it because you’re man is on his way home and you need a little pick me up before he walks through the door.

However or whenever you eat it, ENJOY… and love, love, love being with your man.

Happy Love Day, everyone!

Rebel on,
Elisha

You Are Wanted…

love your man If you are married, can I tell you something?

Your man wants you. He wants every inch of you. He wants to love on your body and hold your hand and nuzzle your neck and grab you close.

You know what else he wants? He wants you to want him!

He wants you to love on his body and hold his hand and nuzzle his neck and grab him close.

Just like you wish your man would appreciate and respect you, he’s dying for you to appreciate and respect him.

He’s longing for you to say, “You are a good man – and I’m so glad I married you.”

He’s wishing you’d say, “I’m dying for you to put those manly hands all over me and make me feel 25 again.”

He’s dreaming you’d say, “When we put the kids down tonight – we’re getting naked and “watching a movie”.” (Notice I said “watching a movie“.)

Our men need us desperately. They need to know they are needed, and appreciated, and that without them our lives wouldn’t be the same.

I told my man jokingly the other day, “I think you guys are perpetually 15: you just need to know we think you’re really hot, that you’re really good at stuff, and that we think about you all the time.”

“Yep,” he said. “We are pretty simple.”

Why am I saying all this? Because life is hard… and, as a mom and a wife and a friend, it’s really easy for me to get wrapped up in ‘my’ stuff: what I need, and what I want, and what I wish he’d do or not do. (I’m also saying it because we can get all wrapped up into good food and eating well… but then we forget that what really feeds our spirit is LOVE!)

But it’s not about me… it’s about US… and, most importantly, it’s about my kids.

The kind of wife I am to my man is speaking volumes to my girls about the type of wives they should be someday. So, with this in mind, I LOVE MY MAN.

I love him unconditionally.

I love him when it’s easy… but I love him when it hard, too. (Because what good is it to love only the lovable? Anyone can love who is lovable… but the greatest love is shown when we love the unlovable.)

I love him through my tone, through my words, through my time.

I love him by taking care of my body and my mind… and by remembering that just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I need to be ‘a mom’. He married a woman – and a woman I shall be!

Am I perfect? Of course not. None of us will ever be perfect.

BUT, what I never let myself forget is that little eyes are watching our love affair. Little eyes are learning from our example what love looks like; little ears are hearing through our tone and our words what love sounds like. Our love affair is the first one they will ever know… and will be what they take into the world as the standard.

Can I just encourage you today that, if you are struggling with your man, take a minute and remember why you married him.

Remember the tingles you felt when he’d call you.

Remember what your first kiss was like.

Remember the excitement of your wedding day and how you never wanted to be apart.

Remember the woman you were when you married him – and how you captivated him with your smile and your touch and your warmth.

Remember how it felt to be in love… and then – choose to love him. And, keep loving him. One day at a time, one word at a time, one moment at a time.

Rebel on,
Elisha

“The First Step to Love” Salad

Wow – ever since Quinoa Week ended I have been dying to share more, more, more recipes with you! If I had it my way we’d be filming recipes every night… but, life gets in the way, you know? I mean, my sweet man not only did all the filming, he was also staying up until the wee hours of the morning to get the videos edited. After the “week” was over, we felt we had jet lag – yet, without a vacation tan; and, with three children that “lifestyle” just isn’t sustainable. LOL.

With all that said, I promise we’ll keep the recipe videos coming – just one a week, though. So, I hope you’ll come back every Monday and see what we’ve thrown together!

In between the videos, however, I WILL be posting photos and recipes (and, of course, I can’t help myself: some thoughts on this “rebel” life we’re trying to lead.) And the first photo/recipe I want to share? A little salad I call “The First Step to Love”.

Why the “First Step to Love”? Because this salad is the perfect way to introduce your man to quinoa. It’s so funny to me how many guys I know that, over the last week, have said: “My wife better not make me eat rabbit food.” BUT – they haven’t experienced the “First Step to Love”: a quinoa salad with BACON. (I wish I would have thought to post this before Valentine’s Day, but better late than never.)

Yum.

So, here goes – this recipe will make two side-servings:

  • 1/2 bunch of fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 10-12 dried dates
  • 3-4 TBS crumbled goat cheese
  • 4 strips of cooked bacon, cut into bite sized pieces (not bits)
  • 3-4 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put your dates into a small fry pan with just a little bit of water barely covering the bottom of the pan. Bring the water to a sizzle (which should take less than a minute), turn the stove off and cover the pan. Let the dates sit and soften in the steam while you…

Wash and dry the arugula, then roughly tear and put into a large bowl.

Drizzle the balsalmic and the olive oil over the arugula. Stir to coat.

Add in the quinoa, the goat cheese, and the BACON.

Dice up the softened dried dates and toss into the salad.

Continue to toss the salad together until everything is coated.

Serve salad onto two beautiful plates and serve your man. (It might help if you have something sexy on, too.) Tell him it’s the “First Step to Love”… I have a hard time believing he’ll turn up his nose to that “rabbit food”.

Let me know how it goes!

P.S. I cook my bacon in the oven at 425 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. It’s the BEST way to cook the stuff… it gets it perfectly crisp!