Wordless Wednesday

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Gratitude Sunday

Sunday ButtonI am grateful for so many things today, it would be difficult to list them all in a single post. Life has been (mostly) on the upswing over the last 4-5 months. Finding a church home has been a major contributor to my overall happiness and contentment. I was drifting spiritually, and it was affecting so many things in my life in negative ways. Church is important if you are a person of faith…don’t ever kid yourself that it’s not.

Anyway, here is my list today, and it’s rather long. Some things silly, some serious, all LEGIT. ;-)

1. A full time job with benefits. Last month my hubby was asked to go full time again at his old job. This past week was the first full paycheck. We have all the benefits already. I feel like a 5 ton weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It’s been 3+ years.

2. A refrigerator full of food. As much as I hate cleaning the refrigerator, I am beyond grateful this week that it is bursting at the seams with delicious and nutritious food. It’s been a really long time since I have seen that.

3. Doctor Who. This season and the new Doctor (Peter Capaldi) are AMAZING! I am thrilled each and every week.

4. Nature study. I have time in my schedule to do this again. I am so happy because I missed it more than I realized.

5. Food. Aside from the full fridge grat in #2 there, I mean the enjoyment of food. This last year has been an wonderful ride with THM and learning about healthy eating. I have quite a few new obsessions. Just today, I discoverd THREE: a pumpkin protein smoothie, Greek yogurt with natural peanut butter (a revelation!!), and the “Shrinker” (it’s a drink that is similar to a chai tea, and I can have it a couple times a day!). THM has made me enjoy cooking again, because I get to experiment and try so many new things.

6. Faith. Lots of good things are shaking up inside me. I feel solidly on the path that God wants me on. I can feel the growth, because it’s hard. I can feel the changes, because they make me stretch in uncomfortable ways. I love it!

7. Leadership Academy of Nevada. This new charter school is definitely a blessing in our lives this year!!

8. Running. I hit the streets again last week. I am so happy I did. I’ve missed it.

9. It’s almost October. Summer in Vegas is almost at an end. Hallelujah! I am ready for hiking, sweaters, soups, and the holidays. WOO HOO!

10. Swimming in September. Yeah, I am excited for fall, but until it arrives, my pool is still 84 degrees and I have been enjoying these last days floating in it.

Amazing Zoodles

I promised a post yesterday about zoodles (zucchini noodles), but I got busy with a bunch of other things and never got around to it. Sorry! If you have cable (or TV with commercials), you have probably seen the ads for the vegetti, which makes noodles out of vegetables. If not, no worries! I found it for you:

I have been coveting a vegetti for a while now, because I love zucchini, and pasta dishes are not something I eat with wheat pastas anymore. Dreamfields turned out to be a big, fat lie, so I was right back to chunking zucchini or using spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is awesome, by the way, but not quite the same as real pasta in texture.

Alas…my amazing, wonderful, spectacular friend, Melissa, bought me a Paderno vegetable spiral slicer last week for my birthday. This is infinitely superior to a vegetti, so I consider myself very blessed and grateful, indeed!

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Image Courtesy of Amazon

I have already used this baby THREE times since Saturday. I have eaten five whole zucchini in this time, smothered in chunky garden sauce and a little bit of ground turkey. On my agenda this week is alfredo sauce with grilled chicken breast. Why? BECAUSE I CAN. Guilt-free, veggie noodle deliciousness!

As you can see, the zoodles are very spaghetti-like, perhaps a bit thicker. You can use other vegetables, but I have a healthy obsession with zucchini and I really like saying, “zoodles.” If you can eat potatoes and sweet potatoes, there are other blades to make curly fries. YUM!

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You can eat the zoodles raw, but they are also a breeze to cook. If you like them with a bit of crunch, sautee them for about 5 minutes at medium-high heat with a little drizzle of EVOO. If you want them softer, toss them in the microwave and steam for 4 minutes, drain the excess water before adding sauce.

Your choices for topping these are endless. Zoodles pair beautifully with all kinds of meats, sauces, and seasonings. Zucchini is flexible like that. Needless to say, I am in LOVE!

Can’t we just, like, buy a new refrigerator?

RefrigeratorIt’s not like any household chores top my list of fun things to do, you know? But some chores are a little better than others. I don’t mind folding 42,000 loads of laundry because it gives me a chance to binge watch Netlifx, guilt-free. I also don’t mind dishes; I find dish washing to be rather meditative and satisfying, and I often take that time to pray for people.

Mopping, on the other hand, is a chore I detest. There is no amount of pretending you are Ginger Rogers and cutting a rug with Fred Astaire that makes that chore fun for me. Yet, I still like a clean floor, scented with essential oils, so I get it done.

In my humble opinion, the WORST chore in my entire house is cleaning the refrigerator. I seriously dread doing this. I know I should do it once a month, but I will be honest…that does not always happen. I open it up, mentally ignore spills and crumbs and go happily about my business. I am good about cleaning so many things in a timely manner, but the fridge? Not so much.

For one thing, it’s a freaking pain in the a$$. I hate pulling out drawers and shelves that don’t really fit in the sink, then rinsing, wiping, and trying not to gag over things that could be cultured in a petri dish for science. UGH. Not to mention the wiping of shelves that don’t come out and moving all the stuff around so you can keep it chilled while you work. I repeat: P.I.T.A.

I mean I try to do it when it’s mostly empty, but still, there is always something in there – a jar of jam super-glued with sugary sweetness in the door compartment. That Greek yogurt that spilled in the way back and is crusty and possibly growing a deadly disease, or a natural antibiotic.  Leftovers from the prehistoric era, so old you just toss the container rather than try to save them. There is always something weird & toxic in that slanted space beneath the bottom drawer, too. *shivers*

Seriously. Can’t we just, like, buy a new refrigerator?

God Doesn’t Care About My Happiness

This is not a new concept for me. I have heard it preached, I have read it in books, and I have taken a lot of time to process and internalize that message. God does not give a rat’s patootie about whether or not I am happy. Happiness is temporal in this world. It comes and goes based on circumstances. Joy, however, is internal and based on more than our circumstances.

My pastor has been giving some challenging sermons over the last few weeks. Two weeks ago it was about dancing in the rain (hard times), like Jesus, because life is always bringing storms. We are only really guaranteed two things: life is full of challenges and none of us make it out alive. What we do in the meantime, however, is really up to us. It can be as beautiful and meaningful as we make it, but we (too often) determine our happiness based on our happenings.

Happiness

Today he preached similarly on a kingdom perspective – on how to adjust our reality to recognize that our joy comes from putting God first, others second, and ourselves last. This is also not a new idea. Jesus was very clear that the greatest commandments were to love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. God is far more concerned with how I treat others than my personal happiness. It’s that “radical love is the only thing that has the power to change the world” idea again. Crazy, right?

God is concerned with my holiness. He wants me to be the hands and the feet. He wants me to love the unlovable, to forgive the unforgivable, and stretch myself in ways that make me uncomfortable. True joy comes from growth and giving unconditional love. Never are we so unsatisfied as when we are wholly concerned with our own well-being, and our own needs. Why? Because nothing is ever enough when we focus on ourselves. At least, that is true for me. When I focus on me, I find myself drifting into becoming more and more selfish. It’s a vicious cycle that ends in a “poor me” attitude.

Nothing highlights this problem more than my marriage. It’s not sunshine and rainbows. It’s actually pretty hard. We are really different people, at the end of the day. I made my choice for a life partner when I was young. I have questioned (A LOT) over the last five years whether or not it was time to call it quits and move on. My husband does not share my faith, we rarely agree on parenting ideals, and we share few hobbies and interests. One might say it’s been a hard row to hoe, and I am being generous when I say that. I have suffered some bitter disappointments.

Through that, I have grown resentful. I have focused almost entirely on my needs that are not being met. I have reacted harshly, even when not it was not justified. I have grown bitter and held grudges. There is nothing he has done wrong in the last 15 years that I still don’t recall and occasionally throw back in his face. Some might hear what has transpired and find me justified in my feelings. I can heap my justifications up a mile high, but I know he can, too. We need more than justificiations – we need grace.

Maybe my marriage is meant to be an opportunity for me to exhibit that radical love and grace. Perhaps I need to view it from a different perspective…to find joy in the challenges that encourage growth…and learn to treat him differently.  Maybe I need to forgive the past and mean it, and to move forward looking for the good, instead of focusing on the bad. There is plenty of good, but once I focus on the bad, it’s all I can see.

I am also not discounting that there are problems that need addressed and corrected. Counseling is a good thing. Sometimes, divorce is a blessing. In no way do I condone staying in an abusive situation. But for most of the struggles people experience in a marriage, there is an opportunity to choose an abundant life in spite of challenges. I am choosing to affirm what is good until the good is what is overflowing – even if all I can affirm some days are that God is my strength and I am saved by grace.

I am learning to dance in the rain, step by step.

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