Tuesday, November 26, 2013


this is your peace of mind.

Some people love the holidays. I genuinely love Thanksgiving. 
Christmas is okay to an extent (I don't love commercialism).
I love celebrating the birth of Christ. 
I love celebrating the entrance of a Savior who was bringing low the hills that the valleys might be filled [reference: A Stick, a Carrot, and a String by mewithoutYou].
I love food. I love spending time with loved ones. I love movie marathons. All these things collide at this time of the year. It's great!

But something else collides as well.

I heard on the radio today about a study specifically about stress increasing during the holidays. 

Sort of an *aha* moment for me for some reason.... 
I just couldn't figure out why my neck, shoulders, and upper back had been so much more tense as of late, but yep... that totally makes sense.

I never had trouble with stress & holidays until recent years. I can think of many reasons why, but there's nothing I can do to change them, so I shan't list them. But they do cause stress naturally.
a photo of what happens when jason and i get stressed. headdesk. circa 2006 or 2007. in a home that's right around the corner from our current home and has the exact same layout. the odds, yall. the odds.
This year I am going to make a solid effort to combat that. 

With gratitude, trust in my Provider, trying to see the best in everyone, taking time to relax (sip some kava tea, perhaps? or essential oil therapy?), listening to Nat King Cole and Sufjan.

I'm also considering taking a facebook fast for the month of December. 

But most importantly, I'm going to remember why this season is so important. 

That without this figurative season (of celebrating the birth of Christ, which was likely not in winter... that's why I say figurative) humanity would have been lost.

Remembering that God humbled Himself and became a baby. A helpless being that relies on everyone else for it's own existence. 

He came with news of grace, He came to take my place.

So that all whose wells run dry could drink of His supply.

And to remember that,
"when the rain picks up
and the sun goes down
sinners come inside
with no money, come and buy
no clever talk, nor a gift to bring
requires our lowly, lovely King
come now empty handed, you don't need anything"

Thursday, November 21, 2013


"roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine.
together we can see what we will find.
don't leave me alone at this time,
for I'm afraid of what I will discover inside
-mumford and sons, roll away your stone

| | | | | | | | | | |

I'm often far too interested in people watching. I oft think I should have taken more psychology and sociology classes while I was in school. People really interest me. I love getting to know people, seeing what they get fired up about, what makes them tick, what makes them bleed.

In recent years, I've been especially aware of what myself and close Christian friends get ticked off about. It seems this transition from teen-somethings to twenty-somethings involves a lot of awareness of what ticks us off. We abhor oppression of the destitute, inequality, dehumanization, lack of care or self control... well, I could go on.

Recently there was a story that made the rounds about a pastor who stiffed their waitress of their tip, (please click here to read the full story) saying on her receipt, "I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?"

Yes, this is an outrage.
Yes, she is wrong (well, unless you have the perspective of Steve Buscemi's character from Reservoir Dogs... don't click on that link if you can't handle colorful language).
Yes, she is defaming the name of Christ and His followers.
Yes, she should be reprimanded by those who hold her accountable.

But here's the problem I have... especially with the internet age of instant gratification -
We often feel we can quickly slap a certain label on someone just by reading an article about them and their crappy decision. This happens all the time. I'm guilty of it too. I've quickly put a label on Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Pat Robertson and so many more based off of something they said to masses. And it's not right, I'll be the first to remind myself of that.

Can you imagine being in this woman's shoes this week? Receiving hate mail from all over the world from Christians and non-Christians alike? Probably receiving death threats from people who never knew she existed a week ago? She probably will not be able to get away with/from this horrible moment for the rest of her life.

Is that grace?

No, that my friends is exactly what the Enemy wants.

He wants division. He wants Christians attacking their fellow Christians. He wants us all making hasty judgements about an individual we've never met. He wants us calling her names. He wants us to all be holding stones ready to toss at her.

But what did Jesus say?

"Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." [john 8]

 Our stones are easily quickly hurled at someone we see doing wrong.

But we need to carefully look at those stones and see them for what they really are - our most disgusting sins.

The rocks that seperate us from God but make us equal to the rest of humanity.

We all have them. We're no better than anyone else. None of our rocks are any bigger or smaller than the person next to us. We all have piles of them.

But we need to make sure to make the effort every day to see the person and not the stones, and definitely to not hurl our stones (or pick up someone else's) at anyone.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Go now, leave your rocks at the feet of Jesus.

[disclaimer: this is not to say that 1st Corinthians 5:12&13 are inapplicable; yes, we are to judge those inside the Church and hold them to the standard of Christ.... but I strongly believe we are to do that only with those who we have a strong relationship with, and obviously only when acting out of love]

Friday, November 15, 2013

tough day

two years ago today I was at work when I found out that my husband and several other members of his unit had been called up to deploy to Afghanistan.

it had already been a tough day before learning this. I had been thinking of the events surrounding this time thirteen years ago (now fifteen).

Zola was a wonderful woman. the most wonderful I have ever known, even though I only knew her for 9 of my 24 years on this earth.

she was the most incredible grandmother, mother, friend to anyone... you could have never doubted the love she had for you. she was always so genuine, so loving, so Christ like.

she prayed for all of us so much. I know that sounds strange, but sometimes I can tell the things she prayed for. I'm so thankful for all of her prayers. I'm so blessed to carry on such strength and such a legacy.

those who knew her well say that I favor her. I favor her in ways I've forgotten but then remember.

I was once trying on some sandals, and when I looked down at them on my feet... I saw her feet. I had inherited her feet.

I got her creativity and love of design. I got her taste in classic, simple pieces of wardrobe and jewelry... and wanderlust.

she did this thing that others dubbed, the "Nanny shuffle" which was this shuffle that she did that somehow calmed down any child she held. I can do that, and I don't know how to explain that.

she taught me so much.

but I always am reminded of things I wish she had gotten time to teach me.

like crochet and knitting. I'm so glad I have some of her beautiful pieces left, just wish she could teach me how to create blankets for my future kids. just wish she could be there to see my future kids.

I wish she had gotten to see me graduate, to meet Jason. oh, she'd love him. and he would love her so much. he'd have to taste test her coconut cake to compare with his mom's. oh, that'd be hilarious.

the hardest is when I dream of her, being with her. hugging her, talking with her and telling her about everything. . . then waking up.

oh what a glorious reunion to look forward to.

I try to remember those best times and the most beautiful memories about her.

I love when others can tell me the other beautiful memories.

planning our wedding was difficult knowing that some of those who I wanted most to be there would not be.

few people know this, but it's absolutely so true of who she was, and I never want to forget it.

my grandfather flew in from Brazil to officiate our wedding. I can't imagine how hard this was for him, wanting Nanny to be there so much (as we all did).

after the ceremony but before taking pictures, I hugged him.

he said, with a quiver in his breath,

"you know that Nanny loved you so much. and you know that she never complained. she never complained once in the whole time she was sick. she only ever said one thing that she was upset about, that she wouldn't get to see her grandchildren get married. she wanted to be here so much, Joanna"

[ at this point we were both bawling. ]

yes. yes, that was Nanny.

(this cutie to the left is olivia not me)

if you have any stories of Zola, please feel free to share.

here's a song she used to sing:

"I love you, a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck"

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Difference Between...

There's a lot of differences between men & women.

One being our communication.

Perfect example occurred yesterday.

Jason was wearing a jacket that I think is quite fetching on him, but I rarely ever see him wear it.

I say, "Oh, I love that jacket! Man, you haven't worn it in forever"

He says, "uuh I wear it every morning to work"

My response, "Um, excuse me... do I go with you to work every morning?"

He laughs.

This was hysterical to both of us at the time because it's terribly true and telling of our communication.

Something one doesn't see, the other points out. Then one thinks the other is being ridiculous because their statement is outrageous, but both are actually correct in their own regard.

I was correct in thinking I had rarely ever seen him wear that jacket. I was incorrect in saying he hadn't worn it in forever; I just hadn't seen it.

He was correct in saying he wore it often on mornings at work... but thought I was kinda off my rocker for saying he hadn't worn it in forever. He didn't entirely think about (in that moment) that I never see him wear it to/at work.  

And that's marriage in a nutshell.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cauliflower Craze

Cauliflower is a pretty big deal these days. Well, at least on Pinterest. You can supposedly make nearly anything starchy or light from the stuff. It has been touted to make great pizza crust, mashed potato substitute, and even a base for alfredo sauce.

Note my hesitancy.
So several months ago (before we finally got our house) I tried out a mashed cauliflower recipe (substitute for mashed potatoes). While I had some challenges that I learned from in this attempt....
note: it is FAR easier to make mashed cauliflower by boiling it IN water [not steaming!] for just over ten minutes than trying to steam in a microwave.
second note: it is also FAR easier to use your handy dandy blender stick to puree those suckers than try to use a hand held potato masher. But it was not my house, my kitchen, or my tools at the time, I made do.
.....they still turned out decently. I actually tried these out on my family in law... who rave over my actual mashed potatoes. They thought the mashed cauliflower was, "earthy tasting, but still pretty good. not overwhelmingly cauliflower tasting." 
I'd have to agree with that assessment.

The second time I tried this, I actually did half cauliflower and half potatoes. I enjoyed this much more. Could barely taste any hint of cauliflower, but if/when you did it was still good. This batch was also far smoother and creamier thanks to the potatoes (oh and much easier since I had my own kitchen with my tools!!). However, hubby still says he can taste the cauliflower and would prefer regular... but I think it's all in his head.

Anyhow, that second batch had me singing cauliflower's praises.

I had read about this cauliflower alfredo sauce online and decided that since this last batch of mashed cauliflower/taters went so well, I could probably tackle something new.

So I tried it out for dinner tonight.


Thumbs down.

I'm sorry to those who actually like this sauce, but... it's nothing like alfredo. 

Tonight was the first time since I was a kid that I sat at the table forever trying to finish my food. And I'm the one who made it.

My husband agreed. Diiislike. To "my credit" this is the first time "in my history of cooking" (what, seven-ish years now?) that I've made something my husband or I could barely finish.
Our housemate, however thought it was okay. Not great, okay... and interesting. So she'll be eating that on her own for a while. Hahaha

What's so bad about it, you say?

It's not creamy. It's gritty and super thick... like non-creamy grits. Even though I pureed the heck out of it and added more oil, milk, and parmesan cheese than the recipe called for... and even tried adding half & half, ricotta cheese, and a romano/mozzarella blend that the recipe didn't call for.


And it seems that the cauliflower is completely overpowering in this dish. I did everything I knew to try and get rid of that cauliflower taste.


I even added bacon.


You know it's bad when bacon don't fix it!

Added chicken and broccoli to try and mask the taste...

Made it barely tolerable (in my opinion).

So, this my friends is yet another tale of a day in the life of a quirky wife.

Mashed cauliflower.... Thumbs Up!

Pureed cauliflower attempting to pose as a base for alfredo sauce....

Thumbs Down.

Very far down.

But if you don't take my word for it, feel free to come over and try it.

Not even kidding.

We have a massive tupperware full of the stuff... and I don't think our housemate can eat it all on her own.