Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pinterest comes to life

So, I am finally getting into Pinterest. AND I'm actually making some of the things that I've pinned.
Here's a sampling of what's been going down in my kitchen...and what I've been subjecting Dan to. Here's a little hit: it rhymes with teen-law. You guessed it: quinoa! :)

Superfoods Salad - courtesy of IowaGirlEats. I first made this delicious salad on MLK Day and again this past weekend. The superfoods featured included quinoa, pomegranate, avocado, oranges, black beans, corn, cilantro and shrimp AND a lemon vinaigrette. (If this is spelled wrong, please forgive me. My spelling skills have flown out the window.)
This salad is DELICIOUS. I love it. Dan's response: "This is really...tart. Don't you think this is tart? It's good..." he says as he eats half as much as I do.

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Breakfast Quinoa - This was also delicious and very reminiscent of oatmeal. It includes apricots, almonds, maple syrup, and topped with ricotta.
If you know me, you know that I never have everything needed on hand. In this case, I had no pure maple syrup. I swapped agave, a dash of vanilla, and a dash of rum flavoring. Worked well. :) When I've reheated the quinoa this week, I've added a dash of almond milk. So good.
Dan's reaction: "This tastes like oatmeal." (in a good way)
My response after practically licking the bowl clean: "It's really good!" Dan: "Yeah, yeah it is."

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Sesame Chicken - This was good. I would add some corn starch to the marinade. It was really thin. Don't get me wrong it tasted good - but could be improved. Dan agreed.

"Mac" and Cheese - This is another recipe courtesy of iowagirleats.com. AND another recipe that includes quinoa. This was really good. We used asiago and cheddar cheeses in the recipe. Honestly, this would be delicious with corn added in - as a healthier remake of corn casserole, my favorite food in junior high. :)

AND if you thought this was getting a little too healthy up in here...

Jalapeno Poppers! This recipe is courtesy of kitchentutor.wordpress.com.

What about the Super Bowl, Jessica?

Glad you asked! It may be some more of these jalapeno poppers, or little cheddar smokies in a blanket, or a version of Old Chicago's pepperonie rolls. Leanin' toward those pepperoni rolls right now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts from Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to him [Jesus] [and kneeling down] begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with compassion, he [Jesus] stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, Jesus dismissed him at once. Then Jesus said to him, "See that you tell noone anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleasing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Reading this passage yesterday, I had two thoughts. The first was reminiscent of Mother Theresa's prayer; in the vein of "you can heal people from leprosy and ask them to be quiet; they won't; heal anyway." How often do I evaulate whether or not I should do good to/for someone based on how they will use my gift?

There's this reasonable justification (of not being charitable) that if the person is just going to abuse our charity, then we don't have to give to them. Because, really, we aren't doing good, we are just perpetuating a problem, addiction, etc. How do I know, though? How do I know that my small act of kindness could/couldn't be a turning point? We don't. We don't know how anyone will use a gift once it's been offered. Is that a reason to not offer the gift anyway?

It seems that Jesus would say no, based on his actions in this passage. It can be argued that, as the Son of the God of the Universe, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, that he knew how he leper would act. If that is true...and he knew that it'd play out that he would end up having to hang out in the deserted places from that point on...and he still healed anyway, well, that demolishes my end-use denotes justification of giving argument. Even if he didn't know how it would play out, given that the leper had free-will to choose his response, it's possible that Jesus, being a wise man, knew the two consequences (perhaps not the full extent) of the man's actions, either way. He still healed him. 

My second thought centered on the order to "go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed." I think in the past I've interpreted as Jesus the antagonist, "Show them what happened - in their face." Which is a completely WRONG interpretation, BTW.

The note in my Bible says this, "The law of Moses provided for the ritual purification of a leper. In curing the leper, Jesus assumes that the priests will reinstate the cured man into the religious community." Hmmm.... The reason to heal and then go the priests was so that the man could be welcomed back, as a participating member, into the religious community. Being leperous had isolated the man from the community of believers; being healed and fulfilling the law through the thank-offering provided the avenue for him to be reconciled back to the community.

Which was more important - to be healed - or to fulfill the law by showing himself to the priest? Obviously, the man thought that the healing was more important because he didn't do the latter. It seems that Jesus would have thought otherwise. Certainly, to be healed was miraculous; a life-changer; but it wasn't a life-fulfiller...being an active member of the believing community was.

Which is more important - to be saved - or to be a participating member of the church?
First, that really the question. It isn't a more important than; it is more of an equation, "a" must come first, but "b" must come for "a" to reach its fulfillment.

To conclude, lately the YouTube video 'I hate religion but love Jesus' is getting a lot of attention. I just would like to say this. Jesus was religious. From what we know through the four gospels, his parents met the letter of the law when he was born; they observed the Sabbath and religious holidays. Jesus and his disciples did the same. He was religious; the disciples, the first Christians were religious. He did not come to abolish religion; he came to fulfill it. He said it himself that He came, not to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law and the prophets.

I will grant that Jesus hated empty religion. Most definitely, Jesus examplified living in relationship with the Father and operating under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. However, I think He showed that this relationship brings about fulfillment to religious practices, customs and culture.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts

1) I took a learning styles analysis once and discovered that I am a reflective decision-maker. It means that I need time to make decisions and don't do well making choices on the spot. I think it also means that I am better at appreciating life events and people after the fact when I have time to think about it.

1a) I am a natural reflector. Reflecting upon experiences is a huge part of agriculture education. I guess that means I am a natural ag educator. :-)

1b) As a natural reflector, one of my faults is over-thinking. I have come to this realization, however, God made me a reflector so that I can share my life lessons and thoughts with others. Made to be a blessing.

2) I need longer pants. I love my Ann Taylor khakis, but I look like a total dork when I wear them with my tennis shoes. I feel like I am in 8th grade again. I'm just glad that Matt Downing doesn't work in my building so he can make fun of them.

The Funny Thing About...

Sense of Place.

On January 1, it was 80 degrees here: a record.
On January 2, it was 77 degrees here. I cried.

Why? Because, it was the SECOND DAY of JANUARY! January 2nd is supposed to be COLD. At least where I am from. You are not supposed to be wanting to wear short sleeves, sunglasses because it's so incredibly sunny - and you are definitely not supposed to be loathing the presence of said sun and warmth.

But I was.

Because right now, the hardest part of living in Tucson, Arizona is that it is not Iowa - or the upper Midwest. Everything about it is not Iowa...not home...not familiar. All I wanted on January 2nd was a reminder of the familiar.

I do not handle change and unknowns and beginnings very well.

On December 31st, I was LOVING the fact that I could swing out on my hammock in shirt sleeves. I was grateful for the path that God had brought me on during the crazy, intense year of 2011. I could look back with such a grateful heart.

One thing that I have learned about myself through this past year is that I am not very good about being in the present. In the present, I am incredibly reactionary. In reflection, I can see the lesson, recognize the proper response, recognize God's grace in the moment, and be thankful, peaceful, expectant for the future.

Apparently, the difference in those two days - the change to a new year - had quite the emotional effect. A new year brings an entire year full of unknowns. My naturally worried heart wonders how  IF God will show up; what new things will come about; if it will be as hard as the past year; if it will be harder. (And I hate a brand new calendar full of open dates; it's so unpredictable.) My natural heart is anxious, fearful, wondering...doubtful.

Even though God brought me through 2011 and I can rationally recognize His faithfulness, I don't think I've believed it all to be good. I don't think I trust God's goodness for me. I don't think I believe God that being here is good for me. It's not home; I'm not surrounded by familiarity. I miss the familiar and predictable.

It's so easy to identify ourselves by place. I love being from the Midwest. I love everything that it stands for. I want to raise my family there. It's easy; it's familiar; it's routine. It's easy.

Easy is not always best. Full schedules do not equal full lives. I desire to control, strength, safety, comfort, ease. Being empty means that I could be open to whatever God has planned for my day; not what I have over-committed myself to that day. However, it requires vulnerability, openness and willingness. It requires that I TRUST and BELIEVE in the GOODNESS of GOD and His LOVING intentions for not just my life - but for all - and that He desires to involve me in His intentional plan to love, do good, and show mercy to others.

2012. Five days in and you're already challenging me to embrace my loving Savior. I guess that's why they I say, "Delve into Twelve!"