Guard Your Heart

Proverbs4-23

I know, I know… it’s high time for a quinoa recipe, right? I have one for you – lots of them for you, actually – and, I promise: one will come soon. (Actually, I post quick and easy meals all the time on Instagram – are you there with me?)

Today, though, because of something I went through yesterday, I thought I’d repost something I wrote awhile ago called “Guard Your Heart”.

Yesterday words punched me right in the gut when I least expected it and I fell to my knees gasping for air. They came hard and fast and just so happen to hit the one spot in my spirit prone to bleed with the least provocation: the spot of “I’m worthless and I can’t even do the small things right”.

(Oh, I hate that spot.)

But then I was reminded through my tears: Elisha, guard your heart… guard your heart… guard your heart. 

Yes, GUARD MY HEART. I must.

And, since I needed the reminder… I thought you could use it, too.

Here ya go:
I remember when I turned six years old. I was in my favorite red corduroy overalls with my yellow and red gingham shirt. I had my white mary janes on, and I topped off the outfit by wearing giddiness all over my face.

There was not a lot of good that went on in my house… but that day in particular, we were celebrating! There was no fighting, no yelling, no anger. My birthday had brought joy with it!  There were people, and streamers, and smoke from my nana’s open fire pit where she was cooking up some steaks. There was music and laughter, pretty ladies that I didn’t know and burley guys that had followed my dad home from the gym.

I remember the cake – wow, what a cake! It was a real cake from the Safeway bakery and it was decked out with circus animals and a circus tent and a ring leader. I had never seen something so beautiful with my name on it. That gorgeous cake made me feel loved.

My best friend, Lee – he saddled up beside me when it came time to sing. I knew he was probably close just to get first dibs on licking the icing off the cake decorations. But, it didn’t matter. He and I – we were two peas in a pod… and if he hung around to simply get the perks of pre-cutting cake disassembly, that was alright by me.

In the midst of the glory of that day, it figures something would hurt me deeply. Someone, I should say. I mean, in my world nothing stayed good forever.

I don’t even know who she was, or why she was in my house at my birthday party. But she was there – and she was snotty – and she had no respect for the fact that day was supposed to be pain-free. It was my day – my day to celebrate and be the center of attention! So, since it was my day and it was my house, I happily took charge, not thinking anyone would mind.

“We are all going to go play in my playhouse,” I announced. “Follow me”.

As I led the small tribe of birthday friends down the stepping stone path to our backyard, when I hit the fifth stone with my left foot I heard from three heads back, “You know what?”

We stopped. I turned. I remember looking her right in the face, not expecting what came out of her mouth next.

“If you’re always so bossy no one will ever want to really be your friend.”

There was dead silence. Crickets. My heart sunk and I stared at this girl I didn’t even know and felt the poison of her nastiness settle on all of the kids in earshot.

Bossy? No friends? Ever?

I was sick.

I don’t remember how we got off that stone path, or whether we ever even made it to my playhouse for some fun. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember anything else from that moment forward – it is all a blur. I don’t remember presents, or how the party ended, or whether or not I even had fun. Her face and her slapping words are the last memory I have from turning six years old… the year I was told that as long as I’m bossy no one will ever – ever! – want to be my friend. That was it: I would be friendless for the rest of my life.

Funny how stuff like that sticks to us, isn’t it? Biting words from childhood (or even from our adulthood!) that should have been passing daggers, yet manage to burrow and wound and cause aching on cold days. We grew up singing ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. Who is the crazy that came up with that one?

Words hurt because truth hurts. I’m not saying everything someone else says that’s horrible is actually true… what I am saying is this: what we think is true in our heart will determine how we are affected by words. For example, if we think in our heart we aren’t worth anything, critical words from another will fertilize those weeds of insecurity already planted in our souls. (When I was six I was a very insecure child… so when that girl spoke words that reflected the truth of my innocent heart, they pierced deep.)

On the other hand, if we are confident in who we are, critical words don’t wound so much. Yes, they may make us wince – and they may even make us reflect on whether there is truth in them. But again, how we see ourselves on the inside will determine how we accept the criticisms of this world.

Insecurity in our heart = sensitivity to this worlds meanness.

Security in our heart = not easily broken.

See, it all comes down to our heart and what lies down in it’s deep depths that we’d never think to share. As we think in our heart, so we shall be. (Proverbs 23:7). Even King David said, “Great peace have they who love your law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165).

If we are grounded in Christ, nothing shall offend us. Why? Because when we give Him reign over our heart, He becomes our Truth. He becomes our Defender and our Refuge – and by His Truth, we are set FREE.

F.R.E.E.

PRAYER: Father, Thank you for loving me. Today may I not forget that my worth does not come from this world – my worth comes from You and the fact that I am Your child. Make me one that is not easily offended. Give me Your strength and Your grace as I give you my insecurities, my hurts, my heartaches, and my worries about never really being good enough. This life is tough, and people can be so mean and hurtful. But, thank you that You cover me and that You guard my heart with the Truths of Your Word. I thank you that You make me new… and that as long as I am grounded in You, I will have peace. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen.

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