Mail call

Dear Fall,

It's me again. I just wanted to check in with you and make sure you're still on schedule with the cool weather and pumpkins and everything. I know, I know. We've talked about this before. But you have to admit, sometimes you're late and then there's a few embarrassing episodes with seasonally inappropriate clothing and pit sweat. I know you're not really familiar with pit sweat, given your chilly disposition, but trust me. It ain't pretty. I mean really, you could come a little early. I don't think anyone would complain. Just make sure you let Mother Nature and Father Time know where you're going. It's kind of annoying when you show up early without their knowledge and they make you go back and call Summer to fill in for a few more weeks. Ugh. She's not pretty when she knows she's sloppy seconds.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to your visit, and I think everyone else is, too. You're kind of a favorite. Just remember to show up no later than September 22. I don't want to be wearing a sun dress on my November birthday. Awkward.


MG [and the rest of the Southeast]


First things first.

So, y'know how there's that understood chain of events that happens once you meet "The One"? Like...love...really love...engaged...naivete...married...more naivete...decorating the nursery...babies...etcetera. Well, in between the "married...babies"...I've been told that certain happenings should take place in order to deem one ready for los bebes. It's called the, "Can you keep a living thing alive?" test. And it starts with houseplants.

Remember when I planted my herb garden on the porch? Yes? Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint...all delicious, aromatic and lovely little organisms. Well, I also have a few other houseplants just for the decor factor, and with a few cuttings here and there as well. Here's how they're all doing:

"Devil's Ivy" or Pothos plant--thriving!

Clipping of Pothos--precious!
Philodendron clipping--perfect!

Herb fiesta--three out of four?
So.....if you did not notice....I'm missing an herb. Cue the funeral dirge--the Thyme died. Dead as a doornail. Or a doorknob. Or a stone. Dead and gone, as T.I. would say. We went on vacation and, alas, the Thyme was not hearty enough to withstand the hot, hot heat of a southeastern summer.

Ok, the plants and babies theory: apparently, the order is plants, fish, dog, baby. If you can keep the three previous living things alive and healthy, it's a good indication of your readiness for the responsibility of a bambino, (according to someone). Basically, if we do some simple math, I'm at approximately an 86% success rate, (I'm counting the clippings as one plant). YIKES. If I was a goldfish I would be hoarding food flakes and hiding in my plastic tank castle.

AnyHOW, regardless of Andrew's and my proximity to reproducing a squishy, pooping, screaming, delightfully cute little rugrat, we are definitely getting one of these regardless of how the whole fish thing turns out:
Oh, hello, Love! (Vizsla puppies...me wantie).
Can we all say a collective, "yes, please!" In fact, let's skip the fish and cut to the chase, ignoring my slightly brown thumb altogether: I gotta get me a puppy dog!


Save the Date

First day of work: 27 days away.

(Ann Taintor)

First day of Fall: 36 days away.


My birthday: 91 days away.

(le Credit)

Christmas: 129 days away.


So much to look forward to. Life is good.


When life hands you lemons

It's okay not to make lemonade. Or lemon squares. Or lemon meringue pie. Or any other mouth puckering, sweet dessert that you would serve with a lipsticked smile and an apron. Sometimes it's okay just to look questioningly at the sky and yell, "what's with the lemons??!?!", and then to crumple on the floor in a sour, sticky heap.

But it's not okay to stay there. At some point, you have to muster the strength, the "cojones", as my favorite Alaskan ex-governor would say, to pull yourself up and try to get some perspective. And the perspective from the floor is pretty bleak, I must say. Even when I did get off the floor, I left my lemons in the fruit bowl until they were shriveled and fuzzy with age and decay.

Yesterday, I was offered a job. As a nurse. Many, many prayers answered in one short phone call with a virtual stranger. I was unemployed for fifteen months after graduation and still have a month to go until my start date. A "tough year" is putting it lightly. The difficulties of being newly married with one partner in grad school and the other unemployed are myriad, but they go beyond the bank account to the heart of the matter. My heart.

You see, being unemployed isn't just "having no money", it has a lot of feelings involved, too--ones that I think our society unfairly places on us and says, if you're not gainfully employed, if you don't have a title that tells me who you are, then what, exactly is your point here on this earth?? Well, I was reminded of my "point" here, every day for the last year or so, and sometimes it was with a whisper and sometimes it was with a shout, and sometimes it was with a baseball bat to the occiput. Jesus has reminded me who I am and who I am meant to be--set apart from my career and my finances, my plans, my future. Not that he doesn't care about those things, but he cares about my character much more than he cares about my comfort.

6 So be truly glad.[b] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7

The "joy ahead", though, is not necessarily getting what you want, it's looking back and realizing that you are forever changed. That the Lord's loving discipline has surgically removed the cirrhosed, calcified, gangrenous parts of my heart and he has started the growth of new, healthy, pink, viable tissue. To quote a preacher that was recently in the headlines for making it to the other side of a terrible scandal, "going through something like this makes you become the person you thought you were; the person you always hoped to be."

In no way am I saying that God is done with me. I'm quite sure he's just gotten started, actually. And I didn't do everything right. When setbacks and disappointments came, I cried--bitterly. I pitched fits. I reacted childishly, selfishly, short-sightedly. But eventually I also learned to concede to the Holy Spirit. To yield to heavenly discipline and press into the Father instead of pulling away in anger. That is what has made all the difference in the world. When I was stripped of what I thought was my identity He declared to me who I truly am. When I was anxious and sleepless He whispered His faithfulness to me. When I was frustrated and weary He imparted His patience and perseverance. And so much, much more.

3 Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-4

Hope does not disappoint. Hope involves trust and confidence and expectation. Trust that He knows what He's doing. Confidence that He's done it before and expectation that He'll do it again.

So, when life hands you lemons and confection is not an option you'd like to pursue, remember that 1) Jesus loves you. He really, really, really, really, really, really, loves you! And 2) He probably has things in mind for you that don't involve baking, but things that will leave you much more satisfied, whole, confident, joyful, and hopeful. "Trite" and true, but tried and true.

And in closing, I leave you this:


An unending thank you to my family and friends for your prayers and encouragement. Don't stop now. ;)


Red Beans & Rice did miss her

Thank you, Sir Mix-A-Lot, for that delightful contribution to society. What a gem.

The other day, I realized that I had somewhat abdicated my duties as creative and resourceful housewife for much of this summer, resorting to grilled chicken and vegetables as my dinner plan of choice. Granted, this meal plan is quite thrifty and managed to help us squeeze a few extra dollars from our grocery budget in the last month. But. It's boring. And it gets old. And I hate thawing chicken. And trimming off the fat. Blech. Barf. Vom. Ew. Gross. Hate it.

So, I decided to search the trusty ol' internet for something I hadn't cooked before that didn't involve chicken. At first I was looking for slow cooker recipes, but it was already mid-afternoon and I needed something for dinner in a few hours. Enter, Red Beans & Rice!

The only problem was that I found a few different recipes with many of the same ingredients but a few extra crazy-complicated steps that I just wasn't in the mood to follow. Soooo, I decided to make like the scientist I married and experiment. Heh, heh. Here's the recipe I came up with and let me just say, it's DELIGHTFUL. And healthy. And cheap. And it lasted us for three and a half dinners.

**Please note, if you are a stickler for measurements, this recipe may make you want to shave your beard and wear sackcloth and ashes because I pretty much went by the measurements of "pinch" and "dash". Don't hate me.

Heavy pot (I used my cast iron dutch oven, which I will rant and rave over every time I use it because it is the best thing that ever happened to my kitchen. That, and my ice cream maker.)
2 cans kidney beans
One package turkey kielbasa (sausage), sliced
2 cups-ish high quality H2O
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
Coupla garlic cloves, minced
A few turns of the pan of Olive Oil
Hot sauce, to taste (I used Cholula because it's the best)
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Paprika, to taste
Dried thyme, to taste
One bay leaf (take it out before you serve it. No eating allowed.)
Long grain wild rice. Or whatever kind of rice you like.
Chopped green onions for garnish on top

So, get all your diced veggies and throw them into your heated pot with your olive oil. Saute 'em around a bit. Once they get a translucent and smellin' all good, add your spices. If anything at all, go easy on the Cayenne at first because a little goes a long way. You can always add more, but you can't take it out! Stir it all up and let it meld for about a minute. Then add your water and beans and sausage. If I've left anything out, add that, too. Bring the heat up to a simmer because you want everything to get all mixed up and delicious together and let some of the water evaporate off to create a nice, spicy saucy juice. Cook your rice in a separate pot, and serve in a bowl with the rice on the bottom the beans and sausage in the middle and the chopped green onions on top. EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY! Remember to taste throughout and adjust your spices accordingly.

I apologize to the city of New Orleans for stealing their thunder. Bon app├ętit!


Battlefield of the Mind

Standing in the battlefield of my heart and mind, clad in ill-fitting armor of my own smithing, I have toed the line with ferocious, unforgiving Giants. I have faced my enemies awkwardly outfitted with my shield of Pride, and my breastplate of Self-righteousness, holding in my hand a dinky, dull sword--not unlike a child's play thing--my sword of Shame. I clamored and clattered forward to fight my foe, missing the mark with each swipe of my weapon. As I lay bleeding, with a heart smashed to smithereens, a horn sounds, and the Lord of Heaven's Armies is at my side. His armor is impenetrable, his sword could halve the earth like a machete to a melon. His attack is always sound, always successful. At once, my armor is forged from heavenly metal, gleaming and shining and perfectly tailored. The Helmet on my head says I am His, the Shoes on my feet leave the imprint of freedom, my heart behind the breastplate beats like new, the Sword in my grip whispers and shouts Truth with every thrust and parry, every blow. We fight together, each Giant falling, failing, one by one. Fear is dead. Jealousy is dead. Regret is dead. Anger is dead. Impatience is dead. And as I stand over them, my mouth opens to declare victory: it is His voice booming from my chest, "Invictus maneo. I remain unvanquished".