Halfway There

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It's the middle of the middle month of the year. Summer is here in all its glory and as I always say, time is flying as fast as ever. I'm almost to the end of both my journal and my current purple notebook. These three things are working together to set my mind on taking a step back to consider the progress of the year so far.

This morning, I sat in my garden writing a fresh essay on the writing life and reading over the different things I've put down in my purple notebook.

I ran across this essay that I wrote on December 31st and decided that now is the perfect time to share it with all of you. We're halfway through this year already and yet that night at the end of December doesn't seem all that long ago. I'm sure you feel the same way...

December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

It's only almost 9, but I'm doing what I do when I check the time and adding three hours, which means that my family and friends on the east coast are minutes away from the big moment. I'm home with nearly 20 people and a Harry Potter marathon going on in my living room. A hot shower, dry hair, my fluffy bathrobe, some Bechet, and a cup of hot coffee are my companions now that everyone else is onto year five. I'm in my room with lamps and Christmas lights and the last 140 pages of book four. I'm doing something else I do...Wondering ahead to next year. Where will I be? What will I be doing? With who? What will my "word" be? Will I be as happy then as I am now? Happier? I've been thinking through things and seeing possibilities. And turning each and every one of them over into God's hands.

Last Sunday I was reminded that He RULES everything. The very Psalm that was comforting to me in the summer of 2010 is comforting me all over again. That summer, as I hovered around Baltimore in a plane with a big storm going on in the sky around me - complete with flashes of lightning - the words of that Psalm were on my mind explaining the peace I had. I've never forgotten that flight. I hope I never do. Trusting God in that moment was natural and easy and a total game changer. I guess it was because I didn't really have any other option.

I often wonder why it doesn't come so easily in other situations. The same truth applies. The same power He has over the wind and the rain and the lightning and even the course of that plane are exercised over every person I come into contact with, every circumstance, every opportunity, every ability...All of it. I'm going into 2017 with my mind set on these things and a resolve to BASK in His light. When I bask in the sun, I am full and happy and at ease. My cares melt away. I often doze off. There is nothing like it. I want it to be the same with God. It's going to take His Word. And it will be a good year.

I'm holding a few words back. They are here...I guess I'm afraid to unleash them. Why is that? Here in this "safe place" where they aren't going to go anywhere? Maybe that's something I'll work on. Why not now? Why do we hold things in? Is it fear of each other? Fear of being "found out"? And what is so wrong with that anyway?

Well, I started this piece with intentions. And it has taken a shape of its own. Holding back is harder than letting it out. I'm tired. Not sleepy tired, but the kind of tired that comes of writing your heart out. Only, I didn't quite get there.

* * *

2017 has been a year of much basking. I've been to MA and to SC. I've entered two different writing contests and put my words out there again and again. I've met so many new people and finally gotten around to getting to know people I've met since moving here almost two years ago. I've read less and written more.

My brother and sister have been in play after play. I've helped with props and costumes and volunteered on the hospitality side of things. I've packed more dinners to go than I can possibly keep track of and tucked little notes into each one. 

Circumstances really haven't changed much at all and yet I've poured myself into trusting God and continually looking to Him.

All in all, I'd say it's been a pretty good year so far!

How did you spend New Years?

What were your hopes going into 2017? 

What's on your mind now that we're halfway there?

A Little More On Faith

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

March 30, 2017
Back in May, Jay and I were texting about some life stuff. As it always does, it came around to God and His Word and the hope that we have in Him. Jay is famous for coming up with simple sentences that are packed with meaning. During our conversation he put 5 little words together and I've been thinking about them and planning to write about them here ever since. He said, 

"He heard us the first time." 

Jay's point was that so often, we pray and pray and pray like a little kid who is just SURE that our Mom hasn't heard us yet. After all, if she did...Things would certainly be different. God hears the prayers of His people. He doesn't sleep. He doesn't tune us out. He doesn't need us to shake His shoulders to get His attention.

This is not to say that we shouldn't keep asking or keep seeking Him. As we continue going to Him, this belief changes the way we wait. We pray and we rest assured in the fact that He has heard us. The first time. We can carry on, knowing that He heard us.

Not only does He hear us, but He also delights in this hearing.

When these two principles begin to shape the way we think, they'll be sure to shape the way we pray and live. This is faith in action. That kind of faith can't help but obey. It's the kind of faith that feeds obedience and delight and perfect trust in God. What comes after believing and praying like He heard us is trusting Him and putting effort toward what is up to us while knowing that the rest is up to Him.

We can ask Him to show us our part and to give us the courage and the strength for it as He grants us wisdom to see beyond the NOW. We can set our minds on trusting in His will, His way, and His time for the eternal picture He is painting of His power and glory. Even our requests are part of a story that will outlive all of us.

Remember this, He heard the first time and He is delighted to hear. Now, it's up to us to do what depends on us and trust Him with the rest.


Friday, June 30, 2017

I've got a fresh batch of letters for you today. They're a little bit sappier than usual and I hope you don't mind. Write a few of your own when you're done reading mine and leave them in the comments OR make a post of your own.

Dear Jean Pierre,

You French speaking darling, you...Thanks for being brave enough to shout "big cup!" across the airport late that night in Denver. I smiled and you drug your garbage can closer and the conversation that followed is one that I hope to hang on to for a good long while. You said, "we have God or we have nothing" and you were right. The joy in your eyes and the chance to use a little French and to talk about the treasure we have in God was a real delight. See you on the other side, my friend! I wasn't joking when I said I'd look for you.

Dear Brother of Mine,

Everyone keeps asking about my trip and my response is always something along the lines of, "Really good! Mostly." You're the reason behind that mostly. I enjoyed every millisecond I got to spend with you. The teary goodbye in the garage and the heart to heart and the letter you wrote me after I pulled out of the driveway...They mean the world to me. I miss you more than you'll ever know the same way you miss me. I can't wait to see you again. We're gonna plan it and you're gonna have some time off from work. I love you!

Dear Austin,

Thanks for choosing the healthiest restaurant I have ever stepped into for lunch that first Friday after I got home. I now know that I really like tangerines and that they make a great addition to a salad. I'm not sure that I'll go back, but it was way outside of my comfort zone and like everything in that category, it wasn't so bad after all.

Dear Old Bamboo,

When Leia watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang every single day I swore I would never ever watch it. Time went by and I ended up watching it. More time went by and my brothers and I would sing "The Old Bamboo" as we used the giant one that came from who knows where to get the stray birdie off of the roof. I had no idea that even more time would go by and the little boy dancing around in his underwear with the bamboo shoot that was five times his size would don a fancy costume and learn an amazing routine that he would perform on stage in his first professional theatre contract. What a run we've had!

What letters do you have to send today?

What has the power to make you sentimental?

Summer Reading 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For years now, I've been making summer reading lists for myself. It just didn't happen this year. I went back and forth over what to do and then I realized that I kind of have a list going in my head...

This summer, I plan to read whatever I make it around to. I'm back to reading a lot less again, which is just fine, but also means that planning my reading is more overwhelming than it is helpful. Life is full of seasons! The important thing is being able to recognize which one you're in and doing whatever you need to do to make the most of it.

This summer, I've got my eye on:

Making progress on C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy

"This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf

Getting started on The Maze Runner series 

I've made it to the Psalms in my Bible reading plan and I'm picking up E.B. White's essays, E.E. Cummings's poetry, and Packer's "Keep In Step With the Spirit" when I need to mix things up. Oh, and I'm still working my way through "HP and the Deathly Hallows", which means I am the last one of my siblings to finish reading this series. Surprise, surprise!

As I make my way through this "list", I'll be sure to post reviews!

What are you reading this summer?

Chinese Chicken Salad

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

via Instagram...I apologize for this being all you get. :)

This is the kind of salad that is loaded with lettuce that you eat in a bowl, NOT the kind you put between two pieces of bread. Of course, maybe you're into that. I mean, when I was in SC I made a big batch of broccoli salad and my Grandpa couldn't keep himself out of it. He came wandering into the living room with a grin on his face and a sandwich in his hand. The only thing between those pieces of bread was a heap of that broccoli salad. I've officially seen it ALL.

Back to the salad I came here to tell you about! Summer days are the perfect time to incorporate lighter meals. Half because nobody wants to heat up the kitchen and half because people just don't each as much when they're hot. One thing my family LOVES to eat a lot of during summer is salad. If I announce "salad bar" for dinner, there is sure to be an honest to goodness celebration happening.

I dream of coming up with a rotation of four or five different salads that I can keep in the fridge for afternoons when you want nothing more than to head to the fridge for something to eat that is both cool and satisfying. I've been working on it for years now and have yet to come up with some options that everyone is crazy about...Which is unfortunate. BUT, this salad puts me one step closer!

It's quick and easy and you most likely have everything you need on hand. Like every salad before it, this one is open to any tweaks you might want to make to it! I used bottled dressing because that dressing happened to be the inspiration behind the whole dish, but you could sub your own favorite asian inspired dressing whether it happens to be bottled or homemade.

You ready?

Here we go!

Chinese Chicken Salad

3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown rice vinegar

1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 head romaine lettuce, washed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
3 green onions, washed and sliced
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 c. crispy chow mein noodles, toasted
1/4 - 1/2 c. Newman's Own Sesame Ginger Dressing

Combine chicken, soy sauce, and brown rice vinegar in a zip top bag, tossing until mixed well. Place bag into the fridge for at least one hour or overnight, turning occasionally.

Brown chicken in sesame oil and extra virgin olive oil over med-high heat for 10 minutes, turning once. Remove from heat. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice into bite sized pieces.

Meanwhile combine the lettuce, carrots, green onions, toasted almonds, and toasted chow mein noodles in a large salad bowl. Toss in chicken and salad dressing, continuing to toss until your salad comes together.

NOTE: May sprinkle with a little pepper and some extra onion powder if you like!

Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge. The noodles get a little soggy, but I enjoyed it just as much on day three as I did on day one.


What are some of your favorite "fancy" salads?

What's the strangest sandwich you've ever seen?