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Lights

light

Last week a friend and I visited a museum downtown, there was a temporary exhibit on Light that we were both interested in, so we took the afternoon to do something a little different. I have never regarded myself as artistic or particularly creative, so for me viewing art and seeing light and color tends to be a flat experience, while some of those closest to me see technicolor and life. This recent adventure started off similarly; my friend kept trying to show me beauty and magic and I saw mirrors reflecting not much of anything.
But then, we walked into a separate room that contained various glass objects on tables scattered throughout. There was a young man sitting near the door, so I approached him and asked him what we were meant to see there. The guy lit up, he came from around his desk and walked us to the first exhibit and showed us that instead of looking at the object, we should focus on the shadow it created. The next one cast a great prism onto the wall behind it, and suddenly I saw what the artist wanted us to see! Lights from the ceiling were placed just right onto the glass pieces, which dispersed color all over the place. It was beautiful. For the first time ever, I found myself excited to go to the next table to see what else was in store for us!
It occurred to me that recently I have been more willing to ask the expert in the room what it is that I am meant to see, instead of relying on my own ideas and limited experiences. Sometimes I even think to do this before reading a passage of scripture, or listening to a sermon; God, what am I meant to see here? When this happens, fresh wisdom rains down, opening my eyes to what has always been, but I was previously unable to see. I really want to hold on to this revelation because when I am willing to be open and teachable, light shines through.

https://thekaneko.org/seasons/light/

photo by Andreas Resch

 

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What Donald Trump Taught Me About Marriage

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Donald Trump is constantly in the news, and recently I was reading about the new tax plan he is unveiling. The writer said that this was a pyrrhic victory for Trump, using a word I had never seen before, so I looked it up. It gives me great satisfaction to see a word well-used, in the right time and space, and I enjoy learning something new, so this one was doubly pleasing. In fact, I woke up the next two nights with the word at the forefront of my thoughts.
Pyrrhic victory – noun – a victory won at such great cost to the victor that it is tantamount to a defeat. Ouch. I wondered why this term had lodged itself so firmly in my head, to the point that I found myself discussing the term with others. And then it hit me.

Early in our relationship, patterns were established between my guy and me, that we would argue until he finally gave in. He once joked that I could murder someone and convince him he had done it. For years in our marriage, I was guilty of choosing an empty win at all costs; sacrificing rationality, consistency and certainly the feelings of my guy, in the name of winning the day.

It took years for me to really see that in winning the battle I was losing the war. A pyrrhic victory, because in conquering, I was choking our relationship, snuffing out trust and respect as I went. I think we are often short-sighted in our closest relationships; so eager to be heard and understood that we are willing to do anything to win. What I realized over the years is that when I take the time to listen to my guy’s heart, pray for understanding and reception and make it my goal to argue for us, instead of with him, we both win.
Maybe Donald Trump could learn something from my marriage….

Salted Caramel & Glazed Pecan Ice Cream

77B843A0-0195-4055-8A55-D4DA534A0C27Today is my Mom’s birthday, and she is visiting us this week. Caramel has always been her favorite flavor, and if you can incorporate some pecans and ice cream as well, you’ve hit a home run with her. I think I knocked it out of the park this year. I got the ice cream recipe from bare feetinthekitchen.com, but added some glazed pecans, served it over a warm brownie with homemade whipped cream. Happy Birthday!!

Salted Caramel & Glazed Pecan Ice Cream

3/4 c Brown sugar

6T butter (I use salted)

1 1/2 c heavy cream

1 c milk

1 t vanilla

pinch salt

3/4 c Glazed pecans, chopped

Heat the brown sugar and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly till thickened and syrupy. Remove from the heat and slowly pour in the whipping cream. Whisk until incorporated and then add the milk, vanilla and salt. Refrigerate till chilled and pour into an ice cream maker. Allow to process until Ice Cream thickens and add half the pecans into the maker. Spooon the ice cream into individual containers and add pecans throughout and on top.

*photo from Williams Sonoma

2017 Reading List

escape

I am trying to spend more time reading what I want to learn more about, or just what I enjoy. I took these off of my Kindle, it seems to be the only way I read anymore. For 2018, I want to read more, I have three books piling up now. If you have any suggestions, I’m open!

Life Giving

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek – an interesting book that teaches the simple (but not easy) philosophy of ‘figure out your why and your how should follow’. He gives many examples of successful companies who have done this and succeeded, as well as examples of those who never found it. He does repeat himself quite a bit.

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel – an intriguing fictional account of a family going through an identity crisis. This book opened my eyes to the issue of having a transgender child, or person in your life. It was uncomfortable and a valuable read to me.

The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship by Shaunti Feldhahn– looking back over the year I read several books that deal with being kinder and gentler to those you love most. As Feldhahn always does, she fills this book with research and accounts to help you see that you are not alone. We tend to believe that we are very kind to our families, this books helps you determine the truth, and how anyone can improve.

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis – and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse – I have been following our Senator on Twitter for more than a year, so I was excited to read what he had to say about parenting. I was so pleased to see that he didn’t use his book as a political platform, but as a soapbox. His argument is that we don’t allow our children to work hard and enter adulthood, and freeze them in adolescence. He makes a great point, and has clear ideas on how to combat this epidemic in our society.

Dare to Respect by Tammy Oberg De La Garza – this author contacted me and asked me to review her new book. Honestly I did not expect to like it, the title alone made me want to push back. But I ended up enjoying this fictional account of a group of women who read the book and the various ways they accepted the challenge within their marriages.

A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland – I was on the launch team for the writer of this book. It is a powerfully personal account of a man who had addictions and issues along with a wife and children, and eventually overcame the obstacles to even thrive as a father and husband. It is a very loving book with wisdom that anyone can benefit from.

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff – this was one of the last books of the year that I read and I loved it! Acuff is someone I have followed for years and I read whatever he has to say, but this book gives a good, solid explanation for the reason we either never start our goals, or tend to stop before finishing them. He uses research that makes it so much more interesting and valuable to the reader. I definitely learned some key take-aways from this book.

Life Changing

Whole: Restoring What is Broken Inside of Me, You and the Entire World by Steve Weins– this is a wonderful book written by a pastor in Maple Grove, MN. The reader learns some key Hebrew words and their usage and is taken on a journey through scripture and the writer’s experiences to learn how to live a life the way God intended: whole. His explanation of being shalom to others is beautiful, and a concept that keeps resonating with me. This is a book for a longtime believer who may have lost touch with why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing.

Water to Wine: Some of My Story by Brian Zahnd – I read this book at the beginning of the year and I am not sure I’m ready to talk about it yet. Brian Zahnd is a pastor in MO who pastored a large congregation, until he had a crisis of evangelical proportions and changed the way that he saw the world and preached to his congregation. This book was the first of three this year that have radically changed my perspective. I’m grateful for reading it, but life honestly life was easier before I ever did.

Sinners in the Hands if a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News by Brian Zahnd – This is the second of Zahnd’s books that I read this year, and this one also blew my box open, but not in such a big way as Water to Wine. To really understand the heart of the author, I would suggest reading them in the same order. Zahnd is seen as a radical in the Evangelical world, and not supported by everyone, and that’s okay with me. The chapter on hell is my favorite.

Life Zapping

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – I can hardly remember this book. Cool concept, not cool execution.

If I Were There….

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It’s something we started years ago, I’m not sure exactly when or who said it first. But my friend and I lived many states away from each other and when one was really sick or hurting from a large disappointment in life, the other would say, “If I were there, I would make you a pot of your favorite soup” or “If I were there I would clean off your patio and pull out two chairs for us to sit outside, in blankets with coffee”. That last one as one of my favorites spoken over me many years ago.

As my daughters live far away from me now, the tradition has moved on to share with them. Our youngest had strep throat last month and I found myself saying, “If I were there I would play with your hair till you fall asleep” and to our oldest during a very trying time, “If I were there I would fill your fridge with good food and make you pancakes.” Nothing extravagant, no trips to Europe or promises to fight the others’ battles. Just a quick picture of what could be.

The whole point is to simply convey that I love you, I know you and want to help, even though we both know I can’t right now. It’s reserved only for those closest to me, the ones I know best, and whose happiness actually affects my own. I wonder if you have someone far away in your life that you can show love to by simply sharing what you would do if you were there with them? I would encourage you to tell them. It won’t change the circumstance, or fix all their troubles, but it will assure your Love that you see them, and you care.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie Ice Cream

chocchip

Wait….what??

A couple of weeks ago I made a chocolate chip pecan pie and took it to a dinner with friends. We brought it home with a couple of slices leftover and I had an idea. What if I made classic vanilla ice cream and dropped the rest of the pie into it? Would it work? The simple answer is omigoodnessitworks. If you normally like ice cream with your pecan pie, this may be your new favorite flavor of ice cream.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

1 9″ pie crust, baked
3 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1/3 c butter, melted
1 c corn syrup
1 c whole pecans (I use more like 1 1/2 c)
1 1/4 c mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Set oven to 375 degrees. Blend eggs, sugar, salt, butter and corn syrup. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into the baked pie shell and dot with extra pecans as needed. Bake 40-50 minutes and allow to cool before cutting.

Now, the ice cream:

1 1/2 c whole milk

1 c sugar

3 c heavy cream

1T vanilla

Mix the whole milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves, 2-3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix well. Pour into an ice cream churn and let it run for about 20 minutes. Drop half of the pecan pie into the ice cream after it has thickened considerably, in the last five minutes of churning. Freeze until set.
 

 

What Mess?

tile

We are in the middle of a major house renovation. Maybe major isn’t the accurate term, but for a couple who has never done this, it feels significant. In the next few weeks we will have new wood flooring installed, new cabinets and paint, new appliances. The works.

Meanwhile, in order to get ready for the new wood floors, we have been removing so much tile on our own. Yesterday I came home to a torn up main floor with huge shards stacked all over and a dust and small pieces of tile everywhere. So I did what you do, I started cleaning. I swept and vacuumed and dusted for about three hours, only to find every flat surface covered in that fine dust all over again this morning. My guy informed me yesterday that it was useless to clean at this point, but I felt like I had to, and when they were done with the excavating for the day I placed the furniture back where it goes to give some semblance of order.

Why do we do this? It would be really hard for me to have someone arrive at our home and see our furniture piled into one room and dust everywhere, to know that we are currently living in chaos. It occurred to me that I feel this way about a lot of things, I often want to sanitize the situation and give the appearance that we have it all under control, when sometimes nothing could be farther from the truth.

I have tried to get better at this; I lost a lifelong friend to cancer earlier this year and mourned her passing in front of our children, friends and people I don’t know so well. I rationalized that she was worth it. I have also had three young adult children spreading their wings and beginning to fly on their own over the last three years and anyone who tells you this isn’t a hard adjustment is lying. I have heard the pain is like losing a limb that you are convinced you cannot live without, but over time you learn to do just that. Those first few weeks of change are devastating, and I shamelessly felt it with each child, crying at the grocery store and over coffee with well-meaning friends. Again, completely worth it.

But what about when life is just hard? When you have no money, or your marriage feels like a sham, or anxiety is gripping you at the throat? Do you find yourself cleaning up the place, trying to give the impression that things are great, even when all evidence says it is definitely not? I want to live a life of authenticity but don’t want to be the downer in the room who is always struggling. And yet, we are, right? Struggling, I mean. I think the answer for me is to have my people I can be totally honest with, and to work on not trying so hard to appear to be unaffected by the stresses of life.

If you want to see the state of affairs at my place, come on over, find a chair you can sit in and stay a while. You will leave covered in a fine white powder and dog hair, but while you’re here we can honestly share what’s going on in our lives.

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