Friday, April 16, 2010

"I'm not very comfortable with this.."

I'm linking up with the Company Girls today! Won't you join me? www.homesanctuary.com 


I gotta be totally honest. I am not a huge fan of snow. I am a southern girl- a lizard, my friends call me- and while I don’t like cold in general, I specifically don’t like driving in inclement weather conditions.

A couple of years ago, I traveled with my business partner and his family to Denver to present a team building workshop called CSI:You for one of our client’s national sales rallies. (The great thing about my work is that it often feels like play- and this was specifically one of those times). The first couple of days we were in town we had open to sight-see and adventure in Colorado. Tim and his daughter are both amateur photographers, and the draw of the mountain vistas and opportunity for beautiful photos could not be denied. Thus, we headed up to the mountains.

 
As we started up Mount Evans (elevation 14,270 ft) in search of scenic landscapes, we were rewarded with winding roads and stunning waterfalls. There was a light rain falling and the sky was the kind of gray that made colors pop in photos. Breathtaking…wonder at God’s creation shouted all around us. As we rounded 9,000 feet or so, it started to snow. It was beautiful..giant fluff-ball flaked snow that fell in a gentle silent cascade that muffled all sound and blanketed us in peace.

We came upon the Ranger station and a jolly-ole-St Nick looking fellow greeted us enthusiastically. 

“Let me tell you what I’ve got for you today, kids! I’ve got winding roads, blizzard heavy snowfall, whiteout conditions and an avalanche warning! If I were a bettin’ man, I would bet that none of that will stop you though! Can’t summit today cause the roads are blocked, but you can make it up to Summit Lake about 12,000 feet! Have fun and be careful!” 

Ruh-Roh, Shaggy! Did he say BLIZZARD? Sounds like inclement weather to me! 

“We’re turning around, right Tim?” I giggled nervously (I wish I had a tape of this particular giggle because, well, I had never heard it come out of me before…or since, but it sounded much like Woody the Woodpecker meets Minnie Mouse.)
“Are you kidding? You know what kind of shots we could get up there? No way, CK, we gotta keep going!"

Insert screeching brake sounds here….WHAT!?


Did you hear the guy?! He said BLIZZARD! We’re in Colorado- when they say blizzard they mean it!

But what actually came out of my mouth was, “Hehehe..” (I would continue this nervous Woody/Minnie giggle for the next hour at least) “I’m not very comfortable with this.

But I wasn’t in the driver’s seat, so really my options were limited, and being left outside in the cold was less appealing than trusting my friend and business partner to take good care of us.

I’m not very comfortable with this…” Now that I have put Jesus in the driver’s seat of my life, I often find myself looking at a blizzard of activities and saying, “God, I’m not very comfortable with this.” I have to trust that God has this under control and he can see and navigate through the storms of life far better than I can.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t express my concern. I’ve learned in my life that experiencing fear isn’t always the same thing as having a lack of trust. God built us to analyze and perceive situations as safe or unsafe. Saying, “I’m not comfortable with this,” is not the same as saying “I don’t trust you.” What makes the difference between healthy fear and expressing concern and a lack of trust which eventually leads to defiance is the action that YOU take after recognizing your fears.

I suppose I could have folded my arms across my chest, stomped my foot and thrown a fit about climbing that mountain. Or opened the door and gotten out of the vehicle (I am certain Kris Kringle had hot cocoa in the ranger station), but what I did  showed that just because I felt fear and expressed it didn’t mean that I did not trust my friend. I was rewarded with a great experience and a hilarious story to share with others. We made it to Summit Lake that day…the white out/blizzard conditions made for an interesting photo op…yep that’s us, standing somewhere near Summit Lake (since we couldn’t actually see Summit Lake, it’s hard to tell. You can see the plaque behind us, but when they say WHITEOUT, they mean EVERYTHING IS WHITE!)

God has equally wonderful adventures and blessings waiting for me just beyond the point of  “I’m not very comfortable with this..” What about you?

Has God asked you to step out of your comfort zone and into something bigger? Are you a little scared of where that might lead? 

I encourage you to giggle nervously and breathlessly await God’s blessing….it’s ok to admit you’re a little scared…but step out anyway! I promise- it’s worth it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Company Girl Shout Out! 4/6/2010


Olá!, minhas irmãs da menina da companhia!Como é você todo? Won' t você junta-se me para algum chá? (Hello my Company Girl Sisters! How are you all? Won't you join me for some tea?) Check me with the Portugese!  I am learning....oh so slowly, but enjoying the process! 

How are you girls these days? Life is going well for me! Have a seat and some CHOCOLATE quinoa breakfast brownies...oh man, these puppies are even better than the regular quinoa breakfast brownies (of course they are...they have more chocolate!) I missed last week so let me catch you up!

First of all, I want to say thank you to you girls for all your prayers. I was really struggling to put my breakout session together (talk about reinventing the wheel, ladies...it was a tough one for me) and struggled with a great deal of self-doubt and spiritual warfare last week. Your prayers were needed and felt so dearly at the crucial moment....thank you.  

As for the keynote and breakout I presented at the Jonesboro Young Professionals Network Leadership Conference, I thought they went well. I got great feedback, and met some outstanding people. I was blown away by the welcome I got, and just can't say enough good things about the group! I made new friends, and found new sisters and simply fell in love with the group.

Came home to choir practice in preparation for our Resurrection Sunday Presentation. I had a solo in the presentation, and simply did not feel prepared for it. Sunday went really well, though. We had record numbers in attendance and the presentation itself went nicely.  I think God was blessed by it...but you wanna know the coolest part? We had EIGHT baptisms! ON RESURRECTION SUNDAY! Oh man, it was awesome to join in celebration of the new life Christ gives us! 

This week has been a week of much needed rest. Taking my friend Mary Ann's advice, I scheduled myself off this week. Each morning during my prayer time, I have been asking for God to give me his priorities, his to do list for my day....WOW! It's been an amazing week of seeing how God is so present....ESPECIALLY in the little things. I won't share all the details with you because well...there are so many small ones...but suffice it to say I have been greatly blessed, refreshed and in awe of all that he does for us. I did get to work in my garden this week and God showed me this. It was an amazing day of reflection for me. And I am so grateful to my friends for reminding me that this time of rest is needed, and to my God who so graciously refreshes my weary soul and heart.

In homefront news, Xanman started baseball this week.  We will see how this all plays out, but for now, he is waking his father at 6 am to throw the ball.  Yep, that's right...the sun isn't even up yet.  I love it....love seeing his heart come alive with the joy of learning a new skill...it's been great to watch.  LizzieLou is doing quite well with her Vision Therapy and got a great report from her progress exam last week. We are definitely seeing big leaps in her reading levels. 

I am half way to my goal of $3500 for the International Life and Leadership Camp and have sold over 50 books! YAY! If you would like to donate, or to buy a book...just click on the paypal buttons in the sidebar! I would really appreciate your help!

So that's my life this past couple of weeks....what about yours? How is all going with you?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Gardener's Pain

I love spring.  I love the bursting forth of new life. I love the possibility of new growth. I love green and bright yellow and red and blue. I love the bright rainbows of color after the white and gray of winter. I love to grow stuff. Stuff in my garden, stuff in my flower bed, stuff in the yard. I am NOT a fan of the allergies that come with spring, but I understand the necessity.

I am new to gardening/plant caretaking. It’s only been in the last few years that I have learned to heed my father’s (he is a builder of parks…he knows a thing or two- or a million- about getting things to grow) advice about being a gardener. I remember the first time he told me that I had to prune my rosebushes all the way back to the original stalk to get the best growth. Or when I grew my first tomato plant and he told me to cut all the runners off except for the top two.  I was aghast!

 “REALLY, Daddy? I have to chop down my entire rose bush? It will never grow back!”
“Well, it will still grow without it, but it won’t get strong. There is a great power in pruning.”

And after my first couple of years with leggy, pouty roses and 4 tomatoes to a plant, I wholeheartedly agree. There is power in pruning.
 
This morning, I noticed that my flowerbed in the front yard is coming to life- YAY!  I also noticed that I had done a poor job of putting it to sleep last fall and had not pruned back all the growth last year. In an effort to let it flower just a little longer I let my Morning Glory and Clematis twine together and continue to grow through the very mild fall. By the time I realized they had started their winter hibernation, it was cold and so I left the dry vines on the trellis.  But there she is, starting to climb, my pretty purple Clematis.

When I arrived home this morning, I decided to take down the dry brush and make way for the new spring growth. So I don my gloves, my pruning shears and head to the trellis to cut through the dead branches.  The Clematis is growing beautifully….twining it’s way around all the nasty, dried up, last year’s growth.

Wow…what a visual for my life.

I am growing, beautifully…producing fruit even, beautiful large purple flowers that praise My Great Gardener’s Care….but, somewhere along the way, I forgot to clear out the brush. The dry, brittle, straw-like branches that don’t bring life. And I am climbing and twining my way up those dry branches. Twisting and turning, grabbing hold tight to the ugly, dead parts of my life. Parts that will hold me back, tie me down and choke out the beauty that I am capable of showing.

Just as I don’t want that ugliness in my flower bed, God doesn’t want it in our lives either. So what does a good gardener do? A good gardener prunes away the dead, to make room for the Life.  And, sometimes…there are casualties. Sometimes, the  live, fruit producing branches are so entwined with the dead ones that there are only two choices:

1)      Let all the ugliness stay

OR

2) Prune both away.



IT HURTS!

Does it hurt the Clematis…yes a bit…but she will have more energy to produce more flowers…big beautiful, glorious flowers.

But it really hurts the Gardener! As a gardener, I feel sad for the Clematis…she has done good work, but it is necessary for her to continue to grow. I feel a bit of anxiety, that she will stop growing all together, and thus never fully step into the potential that I see for her. I wonder how much I can prune, without killing the vine altogether.

As my Great Gardener prunes away the dry and dead brush from my life, I wonder if he feels this pain…no wait, I know he must feel this pain. The pain a Father feels when he is disciplining His daughter. I am saddened that I left the dead brush in place and in my zeal to grow for Him have enmeshed my new growth in my old,dead flesh.

Dear Lord, come and prune away the dead and dying brush from my life. Make way for new life in me. I am sorry that I have entangled the gifts that you have given me with the my old habits of doing things. I am ready to cut away the old, even if I must sacrifice some of the new so that I may reflect only your beauty,  only your glory. Make me beautiful in Your eyes, O God, and train me how to grow to Your potential for my life. I love you. Amen.

What dry brush do you need to clean out in order to make way for new growth? 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Best non-cheese mac and cheese so far....

I just have to share a recipe with ya'll....

Most of you know that my family has some pretty interesting food challenges, so I am not going into big detail with that here, but I just wanted to share and uber-awesome recipe that we had tonight.

In the quest to find food that tastes good and is not some sort of derivative of chicken and rice, I recently signed up for a menu-mailer from Heart of Cooking- www.heartofcooking.com and I have to say I have been super pleased.  If you have a special diet, or simply want to improve yours, check Sarah's site out.  Deliciousness...

So tonight's menu called for Macaroni and Cheese....hmmmm...I have to say in the two years of being allergen free the search for a mac and cheese substitute has been somewhat like the search for the Holy Grail...near impossible and totally exhausting. Sarah has done it though....oh, man....she really has cooked up some yumminess...

So here is the recipe:


DAIRY-FREE CHEESY PASTA
Adpated From: Bryanna Clark Grogan

TOTAL TIME: 20 MINUTES * MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients:
1 package of your choice of pasta - we used Tinkyada fusili
1- 1 1/3 cup water
1 medium sweet potato (about 4 oz.), peeled and
chunked
1-2 medium carrots, scrubbed and chunked
1/2 medium onion, peeled and chunked
2 clove of garlic
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
2 Tbsp. sesame tahini, optional (I didn't use this)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast " akes
1 Tbsp lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Steps:
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Drain, rinse with cold water, return to pot and cover
to keep warm.
2. Simmer the sweet potato, carrot, garlic and onion
in a small saucepan with the water, covered, for
about 10 minutes, or until the carrot and potato are
tender.
3. Add veggies to the blender container with the
remaining ingredients. Blend until VERY smooth.
Add water if too thick. Add back into the pot and
heat if too liquidly. The cashews will thicken as they
are heated. (You can also use a blending wand in
the pot).
4. Add desired amount of sauce to the pasta and
serve immediately. Or, refrigerate sauce, covered for
up to a week. (Reheat over gentle heat.) Add a little
water to thin.
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