Friday, March 21, 2014

5 things I learned (& loved) living in Texas

I've never felt more out of place in any place than I did living in Texas. Those five years were shocking! The shock of figuring out my identity as a first-time mom, on top of trying-mostly in vain-to figure out where I "fit in" took me by surprise. 
As much as I struggled with loneliness while living in Texas, several things about it made a home in our hearts.
It's a super place to live! I'd give anything for that sunshine this morning, oh, and the sunsets-breathtaking! We miss the low cost of living, always enjoyed pretty drives in Hill Country & have fun memories in San Antonio and at the Fort Worth Zoo.
My breakfast this morning inspired these 5 Loves from our life in Texas.
#1: Love thy neighbor. I'll never forget the smiley blond gal, claiming to be my neighbor, arriving with a cooler full of "Cokes" (universal for all soda) and a vacuum cleaner when we arrived. The friends we did make, swung the doors opened wide for us to their homes & their lives. Many of them have continued to provide prayerful support and friendship across the miles & years later.
West Texas hospitality came in the form of waving at passersby, smiling at strangers, and sharing casseroles and anything else they have that you need. We have tried our best to emulate it ever since.

#2: Love thy local football team. This may be the best of all! I married a college football player, but he was burned out, so the religion that is Texas football re-kindled his passion and created a football fan for life out of me. The community support, the way the city is a ghost town outside of the stadium on game day, Tech beating UT-yes, it was my favorite thing about Texas.

#3: Love thy Tex-Mex. Breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, fajitas with house-made tortillas and lots of fresh lime & cilantro, yum! Putting fresh salsa on my eggs this morning inspired this post. BBQ was tasty and eating steak in Texas has ruined my husband for eating steak anywhere else in the USA, but I crave that fresh, Tex-Mex monthly!

#4 Love thy financial freedom. Millionaires wear Wranglers and drive pick-ups in Texas. Where I grew up, people were more likely to be decked out in designer duds and drive a Lexus, and have credit card debt & depleted bank accounts. These are generalizations, but my perception was that folks in Texas were less concerned with image and more concerned with building wealth & investing in local entrepreneurs than I'd ever witnessed elsewhere. Immersed in this culture, I learned the freedom that comes from living below your means. We quickly adopted conservative spending habits and lofty savings goals.

#5 Love thy back comb. Kidding. Not really. No, I am; it's not that bad. Who am I kidding? Yes, it is. But those Texas girls are so pretty, tanned-skin, gorgeous even for morning school drop-off, "full face on" even at the gym in the morning.
Yeah, it's no wonder I never fit in. Pin It

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When seasons stick around too long

Last week, New Yorkers got a jolting reminder that the calendar means little when it comes to seasons. I got a good, cathartic laugh out of this graphic.
On Tuesday, the 51 degree weather had me planning to bring out Spring clothes & wash the quilts for storage. Overnight, our town was blasted with a snowstorm!
As I drove around my own Arendelle, I couldn't stop snapping photos. Trees and branches, houses and hills were covered in glittery, white snow. Everywhere a picture!

I could hardly mourn my flip-flop fantasies, because the beauty (like the Winter) seemed inescapable.
There are figurative seasons in our lives like Northeastern Winters. Seasons that seem never-ending; waking up day after day to the same struggle, all relief efforts, in vain. If your gut tells you change is up to you: read this post I wrote to find the courage.
If your gut tells you this season will stick around for awhile, you're best bet is to embrace it! Your mission is to find the blessings and the beauty hidden between hardships.
It's tempting to lose heart, abandon your values, ignore the lessons you've learned through experience for the sake of immediate relief or gratification. It's frustrating to watch, helplessly while pain and consequences appear inevitable.
Paul talks to the Galatians about this in Chapter 6:
"Make no mistake: God can’t be mocked. What you give is what you get. What you sow, you harvest. Those who sow seeds into their flesh will only harvest destruction from their sinful nature. But those who sow seeds into the Spirit shall harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist."(v7-9)
There's much more waiting than doers, like myself, prefer. Further, as a Christ-follower, you commit to a life of trusting, hoping, believing without seeing. As I've entered my thirties, I've come to respect time in a way I had no time for in my twenties.
I've learned whether good or bad, so few circumstances are permanent. Feelings are fleeting. Exactly what you have right now is worth enjoying. Anxiety doesn't help or hurry, just hurt (I've had the ulcers to prove it).
Changes come in time. Lessons come in time. Healing comes in time.
If your season has been determined by God, all of your best efforts are no match for time.

My effectiveness in the current season is determined by how present I am in it. 
If I've already moved on mentally, started "Pinning" and pining for the future, I'm less useful where I am now. Even worse, comparison seriously threatens contentment.

Watching a mom, reading in a lounge chair by the pool while her older kids swim, tempts me to wish away my season of life with children too young to swim alone.
Witnessing friends using their talents and passions in exciting ways can make confining mine at home with my children seem insignificant and unsatisfying.
When what's best for me, in this season, is met with criticism or disapproval, its tempting to defend or explain in the effort to gain approval.
But here's what I'm learning about seasons of life: they're personal. If you're a Christian, your choices only have to win God's approval.

Arbitrary ideals and expectations can keep you from embracing your season.
Step back and ask what this ideal is based upon. Distribution of household chores (garbage is the man's job, right?!), how money is spent & saved, ideas of romance-it's all subject to personal ideals.
What is really determining how many activities your children are involved in, your schooling choices, your birthday parties? Is it social acceptance or your personal values? They're your children, it's your marriage-free yourself to follow what works for you! It only has to line up with Biblical standards, not your neighbors or even that of your childhood home.

If this season is harsh, consider what James says:
Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.
The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. 
Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him.
(James 1: 2-4,6&7, 9 | The Voice)
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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dinner in a Flash: Turkey Chili

3 things make a recipe a win for me lately:
1. "Real food" ingredients. High on veggies-even better
2. Comes together without too much effort. No fancy ingredients, not much forethought, in less than 30 min: perfect.
3. Family [happily] eats it. Asking for more helpings, so I don't have the pressure of leftovers.
This turkey chili is such a meal. Most of the ingredients are in the house perpetually and it comes together with less effort than it would take to eat out.

I follow the recipe on page 100 in one of my go-to cookbooks, Dinner A Love Story, with only a few minor adjustments. Add diced pepper of your choice to the onion & garlic saute in the beginning. Add frozen corn kernels with the beans at the end. (I'm not black bean fan, so I used cannellini beans.)
Don't skip the cinnamon.
Double the next time if you want leftovers, this recipe will serves our family of 5 & pot is clean. Seriously, her 8 year old made this chili:
Turkey Chili Recipe here Pin It
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