Oh My Grainess, What A Surprise

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Oatmeal. Can you say, a horrendous pile of mush that to this day haunts my childhood and puts a damper on all of the good things of life. Despite my beautiful mother’s best efforts, this was despised… because let’s face it. Cream of wheat was just better. It wasn’t oatmeal’s fault that it gets stuck in your throat and makes you feel like your trying to suck on your food and chew it at the same time. It was just terrible. 

However I have very recently discovered a new love for this healthy, appetite-curving, bowl of possibilities. And to be quite honest I do have to choke down some milk in-between bites of flax seeds and quinoa. But I am desperately trying to make my beer and pizza-loving-body back into a green pepper and cherry tomato digesting machine. Life is harder when you don’t have Mom’s garden constantly pumping out delicious, sun-warmed vegetables that taste like God kissed them all individually. I finally understand what being an adult means, and my diet has suffered greatly for it. 

I have always been something of a sucker for being inspired and inspiring in return. Oh my goodness give me any sort of romantic montage, any story of a man loving a woman, tango dancing and the passion required to do so, any movie including sisters loving each other, dad’s coming home, babies being born, people realizing the beauty in life, army families, patriotism for America, songs about people coming together, bonding with girls in public bathrooms because of our mutual hair issues…. I’m just such a sap for that stuff. I weep at the idea of Jesus being in love with me, and when Phil brings me home chocolate milk that has no additives or high fructose corn syrup. 

So how do you turn such a bland and sticky monster of a cereal into something life-altering and motivating. 

You don’t. You embrace the gross and take it for what it is. Something that is good for you. And part of doing things that are good for you is accepting that they might not always taste good, but the result of them will be much better. It might not be the thing that sparks my taste buds and makes my mouth feel like it’s in flavor town but, my legs will appreciate those oats a lot more than any number of beers. 

I know sometimes admitting I’m wrong, or I did something wrong, or apologizing for things that I don’t think are wrong but that hurt someone else, well that feels like someone is asking me to eat a bowl of bark and like it. I can feel every single issue I struggle with rear up and get just infuriated. And it tastes like you took the leftover bark and made a milkshake with sap. And I have to drink it with a smile.

But! Like an hour after that’s all over (okay not a whole hour), I am so glad that I did apologize. Because even if I didn’t do anything wrong. Just the fact that our relationship is growing and we’re becoming more attune to one another and the things we both struggle with, is well worth it.  

So the grain. The oats. The mess. It’s completely worth it to know that I am taking care of myself and my body. 

(Well that’s what I’m telling myself anyway)

 

Anna’s Bowl of Oatmeal 

– I never measure anything so just eyeball as you will –

A Cup of Oats
A Few Tablespoons of Flax Seeds
A Few Tablespoons of Red Quinoa
A Few Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
A Couple Spoons of Greek Yogurt
Some Fruit

I cooked the oatmeal with flax seeds, and quinoa first.
I just put enough water to soak all the oats and let it heat up.
It all depends on how you like your oatmeal really. 
After the oats are soft I added the sugar, yogurt and fruit.
And then I ate it. 
And it wasn’t half bad. 

 

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Time For A Tea-Off

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There is something so romantic about summer. The heat, the food and drinks, the sundresses,  the stars seem brighter, lakes are warm, garden vegetables rule the kitchen counter, beer is colder, hot dogs become a staple and America itself takes on another form. Now of course everyone will complain about how excruciating the sun is in the later months, but we all know we love it. Everyone looks better tan and fit, let’s be honest. I think it kind of becomes the standard for other seasons, because not that we’re actually better looking… but because we FEEL like we are.

Oh it’s a strange phenomenon, and I have tried to explain it many a’time only to get bewildered and suspicious looks from my sweet fellow.
“No Phil, I KNOW my legs are thin but today I FEEL like they are… I know I’m pretty but right now I just FEEL pretty.”

Anybody out there know what I’m talking about?

And for me the biggest season of self-appreciation is the warmest season, the time and place to wear clothes that flatter my figure and promise to not make me look bulky.

This could explain why ladies tan year round, because our teeth are three shades whiter, our legs look less flabby (we’ve ALL got a little flab here and there), our hair gets those cute streaks in it and well… the world is brought back to a good place.

And I’d say one of the biggest stars of summer is iced tea for sure. This guy is really popular no matter the weather outside, especially in the south is this particular beverage high on the drink-all-the-time list. I don’t really care for the iced tea you get from most restaurants, I find it to be way too sweet and one of the reasons we Americans have lost our sense of  proper sugar intake, leading of course to obesity/diabetes and many other horrible and dangerous diseases – but that’s not the point of this blog-

We have had a jug of iced tea sitting on our fridge for a good couple of months now, in fact we had two before I insisted in throwing out ONE of the expired gallons. How is it possible that we could let something sit and sit and get pretty smelly, and not dispose of  it in the plastic container not even three feet away?!

It’s crazy to think that there could be such a big issue so close to us, and how long we let it fester and build up bacteria until we do something about it.

I mean, how many times have I done the exact same thing with psychological or spiritual issues. Like a blog post ago, when I was talking about bitterness… and that just has to be one of the most rotten things around, how it literally does rot your body… cancer, osteoporosis, tooth decay… they all come from extended forms of bitterness. Ew, rght? Assuming that your body is like your figurative house, then that would make your heart your fridge, and that bitterness is that jug of rotting sweet tea. Maybe seeming harmless at first, I mean everybody lets food sit for too long sometimes, everyone does a little judging sometimes, everybody gets upset sometimes, and it seems that it’s usually because we feel mistreated. Like someone or something is imposing on our rights.
We are HUGE about having all these rights; we have the right to do what we want, when we want, how we want, with who we want, and we can say what we want to whomever, whenever, in whatever manner we care to. I know it probably sounds like I’m exaggerating a little but I find that the majority of arguments in my relationships are over an expectation that has been broken, a standard that I set up in my head that the other person didn’t know anything about, and as a result I’m upset that I’m getting something other than what I bargained for. Something less, at that. Someone is cheating me out of what is rightfully mine, and I am just appalled they have the nerve to even TRY to pull a fast one on me. Now I am generalizing a little because obviously people aren’t that petty.

(……..)

Can we throw the tea out, already? Make a different kind, maybe? Can we possibly take that rot… look at it for what it is, and dispose of it. Because whether it’s iced tea or bitterness, it’s stinking up your house and heart. Everybody who walks near can smell it, and maybe they want to be polite and leave you to your own trash… but they know it’s there. Have you encountered someone with bitterness? It just reeks off of them doesn’t it? Everything they say and do is covered with negativity and a bad attitude. What’s worse is that, iced tea doesn’t care if he’s gross and making your beautiful home smell like a dumpster, it’s not HIS house so why should it matter to him? And bitterness, why should bitterness care if you’re miserable, huh? It’s not his bones that are rotting, it’s not his body that is in pain and infectious.

And I’m not one to say that this is a simple or an easy thing, no matter what anyone might think. That tea is still in my fridge for one reason or another. Whether it’s just lack of motivation to keep my kitchen sanitary, maybe it’s me avoiding the issues in my house… but at some point, I’m going to have to dump that tea out. And it will smell wretched, and it might clog my sink, but thankfully I know that tea will not have the best of me. I will not go down as the one who let the tea sit out too long. And you shouldn’t be either.

There’s an expression, or quote, or I heard it somewhere one time… that if you’re not helping the world become a better place then you’re helping it become a worse one? Those words have always made me feel like crap, like I had to go save a puppy from one of those shelter commercials or I wasn’t doing my part as a decent human being. Well I don’t know if it’s all as intense as that, and I have to keep reminding myself that maybe me making the world better is merely forgiving my sister for that one thing she did that one time a billion years ago when we were kids, or not getting offended and thinking my friend hates me when she gives me some well-needed fashion advice. And I guess I would just say the same thing to you, that the next time you make your iced tea, you think better thoughts… you speak more love to the people around you, you forgive faster and you clean house a little more often. I promise it will be worth it.

 

Anna’s Mango, Basil, Mint Iced Tea

Very Ripe Mango
Handful of Basil
Handful of Mint
Couple Spoons of Brown Sugar
Little Splash of Bourbon or Whiskey

I pureed my mango, then added the herbs and blended them all,
but it would be MUCH better to crush the herbs and grind them down first.
Brew whatever kind of tea you’d like,
I use black tea. Add the puree and sugar to tea and give it a nice stir.
Add bourbon to your own taste and put in a TON of ice.

-I’m sure you all know how to make decent tea.

Just A Cup of Things

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It’s way too late in the day for me to be having my “morning” coffee, and I’m sure I will reap the consequences around 10:30 tonight when all I want to do is sleep. 

 

I had a birthday this past weekend and I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but I have found that Satan always does his best to twist the best things in our life into things that are complicated, heavy, frustrating and ultimately disappointing. What an asshole, right? Like, it’s not like we don’t have enough to fill up our lives with already; what with paying rent and monthly bills, spending too much on beauty products and experimenting with household products to find that million-dollar recipe for DIY face masks, doing our best to keep our bodies, hearts and houses clean, keeping up with children (I don’t have any but I imagine that has to be a project), keeping up with NOT having kids, working through relationships in our lives, and well let’s face it… just being human is a bowl full of “gimme a break here” a lot of the time. So no, we don’t need any extra help making life into a mess. 

Unfortunately for us, the only salary the devil requires from making more mayhem is watching it happen and enjoying our peace being taken away. 

This time last year, someone was taken out of my life that had been a HUGE contribution to almost every aspect of my heart, my personal growth, my spiritual enlightening, I mean you name it – they were a part of it. So obviously this was a hard break, and it definitely broke my heart. I sat outside, chain-smoked the rest of my cigarettes and just stared at the road, just unable to think or do anything. I couldn’t even contemplate what was happening, or why God would allow it to. I was more invested in this than anything else in my life, how could I have gone wrong, how could something so special and so important be ripped from my existence in just a mere moment. 
Well I sat for what felt like hours and hours, and finally I just looked at the clouds and asked God if He was still there. And after a minute I knew I was there too. And though it didn’t change the situation or my hurt heart, I knew everything was bound to be okay. And I gave my heart back to God, and since I apparently had no idea what I needed or what my heart knew for sure, I asked Him to make me a new heart and to show me what love is. 

And a few weeks later… He did. 

Well I guess that would have been a really great place to stop, right? End it with the uniting of me and the man that I love? I mean can we say classic romantic comedy plot? What people in movies don’t tell you though, is between the smiles and the good memories in the making, and the inside jokes and all the really beautiful moments… well there are some really challenging times. And if the past loves to do anything, it’s chase you and if you aren’t careful, it will haunt you. And as we all work through seasons in our lives of growing, and being new people and moving forward, there tend to be moments of very hard conflict. 
And what was at one moment just a loving admiration of a man who is stable, and inspiring, and a wonderful leader… is now a disdain for him because he doesn’t do what I “need” him to, he isn’t as prince charming as I thought and marriage is just really turning out be pretty hard. The great times are now good times, the good times are now fine times, and the fine times are just okay. And our life together has transformed into this ugly picture of people who just deal with each other. 

How exhausting, right. 

I spent the good part of the weekend reveling over my bitterness toward him, myself and of course God for ever getting me into this mess, all without telling him because I didn’t want any of the issues I was struggling with to be real. I didn’t want to be having issues, I just wanted to see him in a perfect light all the time, I didn’t want to be the wife with mood swings or outbursts of anger. However, that’s denial. Because I was struggling, and I was having issues, and I was absolutely miserable over the fact that I was having a hard time and couldn’t solve it myself. Why couldn’t I just get it right, why couldn’t he just magically know what I needed, why was I upset over something that I knew wasn’t right to be upset over, but I was anyway. 

My birthday rolled around and for about the first half of the day we didn’t really say a whole lot to each other. We talked, but we both knew something wasn’t alright with us. 

Finally I told him. I unleashed the manifest of my heart and broke open my gates of steel and threw my vulnerability at him and braced myself for him to not understand, to be hurt that I was unhappy, to take it personally, to think horribly of me. But he put his arm around me, and he just said,
“Ah yeah, I understand… that’s the worst.”

And then he let me talk, and talk and talk and talk. And anyone knows the relief of being able to expose your heart for what it is and have it received with compassion and empathy, and how healing it can be. We sat on our couch, in our house, with the shades open to a stormy evening, drank wine and just talked as equals. Talked about one another’s struggles and the way the enemy works and how to overcome it. 

And I felt my heart regain comfort and peace. And I looked at him, and had a little mini-revelation of God’s mercy and plan for my life. Which may not seem like a big deal, but if there is anything I have learned so far it’s that those moments where you can see another person in the light that God made them in, well it’s like you’re witnessing a miracle, seeing the world a little better, regaining faith in the unknown, jumping back into the river, getting back onto the horse… and all those types of things. 

Life will constantly change, people will sometimes change, and the only way through it all is depending on the only thing that never changes (and I think we all know what that is). The past is the past for a reason, it has to be, and if it wasn’t then it wouldn’t be the past, it would be your present or future. 

Heaven’s in Hiatus.

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 So, I have a bone to pick with Christianity. And with the ones of us that call ourselves Christians. I have noticed some things lately that have severely alarmed me and I think maybe we have lost a little focus on what is important about being a follower of Christ. Not to worry, it can happen to anybody and I’m sure it has happened to everybody… and wait for it because the solution is super simple.

Now I am in no way, shape or form claiming to have the answers to the problems of life, because we all know that no one could possibly carry all of that around in their brain all the time. Jim Carrey tried it, remember people… totally not a human-possible thing.

Everyone’s interpretation of Jesus, how He taught, the parables, the life He led, the words that were spoken, the message that He wanted to get across, well they are all a teeny bit different, but I believe that Jesus wanted something to be very clear, and this He demonstrated continuously in His life, gospel, teaching, mannerisms, death and life again… Love. And this was coming directly from the great big Guy whom we all love to call Father, Daddy, Abba, My Darling, God… and anything else that is sweet and can be applied to a Holy Guy In The Sky.

Love; Love God, Love yourself, and Love the overweight guy standing next to you in Wal-Mart who keeps forgetting what he’s there for and every time he reaches up to a high shelf, lets a little fart slip out. Yes, that guy. Does that mean God wants you to go smell his fart, well of course not, but it does mean holding back the disgusted feeling AND look that are just seeping from your pores.

I get it, people can be frustrating. They can be crude, ugly, mean, nasty, bad-smelling, nose-picking, butt-scratching, weird-looking creatures. And I can’t understand all of the decisions that we as humans have come to, our ways of thinking do not make sense sometimes. But. God said for us to Love us, not to understand us.

Now what about things like: Abortion Rape Murder Pedophilia Robberies Sex-Trafficking Slaves Abuse War Bad Gun Control Manipulation Lying Deceit

….

What about those things? What about when I know what that man has done? What happened to those little girls, why that parent isn’t allowed to see their children, why you don’t want to walk down certain streets at night. What about those times. How is it possible to love people when we have seen the horrible things that they are capable of doing. How could you ever treat someone who has murdered another human being, with compassion, or treat them the same way you would treat your mother.

Because THAT is what Jesus would do.

God never said to Love your neighbor as yourself until he does something despicable and goes to jail, or to Love your neighbor as yourself except the girl who has a terrible case of acne and doesn’t know how to brush her hair. There were no asterisks next to that verse, no hidden meanings down at the bottom where Jesus said, “Hey you guys know that Mary Magdalene lady? Yeah don’t tell anybody but man is she just weird or what?! Like get a clue chick, I.don’t.want.to.sleep.with.you… yeah so you don’t have to actually Love her, just be nice to her face okay?”

Ha, what a sick idea, right? No way man, Jesus was like,

“Hey guys I know your feet are just wretchedly stank from the road, and who even knows when Peter bathed last, but I want to do this for you. I want to get on my hands and knees and wash your feet, I want to let you know how important you are to me.”

So yes, we do have a pretty high standard to live up to, and not to say that this is easy because we have had generations and generations of people before us who have struggled with the exact same things, and we all know how they handled it. So this is no slice of simplicity pie, granted. But we do have a chance, we always have a chance to make things different.

And different doesn’t necessarily mean sidewalk prophesying or some crazy high of ministering to people and bringing them into the light. Maybe it just means, giving someone in Wal-Mart a smile, because as we all know, shopping at Wal-Mart is rarely fun for anyone and we all could use all the smiles possible. Or paying for somebody’s dinner behind you or beside you. I mean come on, we all know how to do nice things. And MAYBE it means, checking your heart and asking for more patience, more compassion, less judgement, less criticism.

Can we bring a little Heaven back to earth.

Life In The Flax Lane

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Eating Healthy. Well it just sucks half the time doesn’t it? With bikini season coming up, I have started to become all-too aware of the little edges of my body that need fine tuning. Who even started the bikini fad anyhow? I know several women who aren’t too keen on getting body parts waxed every three weeks JUST to not have stubble in places that shouldn’t be looked at that close anyhow! And yet on every social media account I have there is a wave of treadmills, workout ponytails, and headphone selfies to drive any woman mad with panic. Beach season is a HUGE season for jealousy and competition with women. Who has the cuter clothes, who looks better in shorter dresses, who has the most perfect pictures with their tanned and 6-packed boyfriends, who has the skimpier (but she can get away with it) 2-piece…. it makes me feel like I’m watching the “pizza and beer” scene from Miss Congeniality all over again. And ironically, those happen to be two of my most beloved food groups.

So I hope I don’t seem rude or come across as inconsiderate, but I think the whole thing is a bunch of bologna (there’s a pun to be found in there somewhere). I think that there is a craze, and the need to be thin, tan, beautiful, and charming with a mint mojito in my hand is a bit ridiculous. Maybe this isn’t a real thing anymore and maybe girls don’t think this every time they step on a scale, but I know the last time I stared at myself in the mirror, this is what I felt… so if there’s just one other girl in the world who feels like I do – sister, I’ve got your back. And I think this is a really dumb problem, because I would really love to enjoy my summer and not worry about if the little dimples in my legs. And yes, although I thought my mom was lying to make me feel better, we do all get those dimples at some point.

Okay, so here’s where I’m going. I think that we are missing the point. Girls, it’s not hard to find a blog or a t-shirt, or a Twitter site or a Facebook post nowadays that doesn’t affirm us as beautiful, individual, independent and unique human beings, but out of all of those words… how many do we believe. Well, I guess I’ll speak for myself, how many do I believe. Do I really think that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, for that matter do I even know what that means?! I know that if I sit in church and listen to my Pastor talk about the heart of a woman, how special we are, how needed we are, then I walk away with a little bounce in my step and feeling like the world is my oyster.

But… when I look at myself and wish my boobs were bigger, or that my hair would be either be straight OR curly but cut it out on being both, when I reject what I see and wish I had something else… I’m calling God a liar. And I’m saying that what He made isn’t good enough, and I want to change it, I want it bigger, or smaller, or thinner, or plumper… I want to be a different me. If you created a person, if you put time and effort and sweat and blood* into this person, put your dreams and hopes and desires and made them so special, and then watched them turn around and look at you and say,
“I’m sorry, I know you made this but it just isn’t good enough.”
Well, how would you feel.

Not to get super serious, or make this a downer, but honestly can we all agree that if you believe you were made in the image of God, that MAYBE you should just chill out a little? Now this doesn’t go to say that if you are unhealthy or drinking ten shots of tequila every night that you should be surprised to see a little extra baggage, and in such case some exercise would be advised. But my point is, we’re looking at it all wrong! We should be loving ourselves first! And then looking at the areas of our lives that need work. Because even if it couldn’t hurt for me to lose a couple pounds, if I hate myself… it’s gonna take a whole lot longer. And feeling happy releases chemicals in your body which speed up your metabolism. It’s science. Boom.

I think the focus should stop being on the external and start (or keep on) being on the internal. And when I stand before myself in the mirror, accepting myself for everything that I am, and am not. Be flirty with yourself every once in awhile. It may feel really silly to wink at yourself or admire that little thing you got going on there, but do it!

Life IS actually really short, and I want to say and do things that matter. And also one more thought, that girl who was sitting next to you who kiiinnnnddd of gave you a dirty look so you gave her one back and now you two are on the fast track for mutual evaluation and annihilation, why not practice something different. I have found that the first look you give to someone is very important, and if you smile at someone, chances are, they’re gonna smile back. I mean seriously girls, it’s really easy for us all to be friends, and who really cares about the guy who designed your purse anyway.

*I don’t actually know if God has sweat or blood. But if He does, I’m sure it smells of mahogany and pine trees… His sweat that is, I don’t think His blood would smell like anything. That would be weird. Unless it does…. Eh… I’ll just leave that up to you to decide. 

The Summer Slaw of Sanctification

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I remember growing up, my Grandma would always make the best slaw for our family get together’s. I mean, cabbage and mayonnaise doesn’t really strike one as a delicious summer meal until Grandma puts her hands on it, and all of a sudden there were sparkles of magic, and ounces of love (that only a Grandma can give) and that bowl of nothing becomes one of your favorite summer dishes. It just isn’t a barbeque without coleslaw, and everybody knows that.

Well as I started reading different recipes and making my own little renditions of slaw that I will pass on to my children, and one day grand-children, I realized that making your own recipes isn’t nearly as easy as you thought it was! What once was a cherished memory has now become a few counter-tops covered in poorly-chopped cabbage and lots of regret to ever starting such a project, because who even gives a crap about slaw anyway?!

Well as I’m washing down my counters, trying to not get discouraged by all the purple scraps I’m finding in little corners, and by the failed attempts at “The Next Big Thing”, I’m really reminded that although we can dump a bunch of crap in a bowl, nothing really makes it a masterpiece without the right ingredients. All of the recipe books I’ve ever looked at have never given me any sort of satisfaction, than coming up with something totally new and ingenious on my own, and then sharing it – and having other people love it too. But those recipe books weren’t written for no reason. Someone, out there wanted to do the same things as me, and someone out there succeeded.

So why do I have so much trouble learning from others, why do I have to push through everything on my own- wanting all the glory for myself, not wanting to give credit to anyone else for anything that they had to do with my beautiful design. Why do I keep entertaining this idea in my head that I have to keep everything in order, and together, and I have to hold the hands on my body that will create beautiful symphonies out of compost. This desire, no, this NEED to be perfect, is exhausting. I have always wished that I could be one of those girls who lays her delicate fingers on a piano for the first time, and the whole room would fall silent, completely immersed in the impromptu melody flowing from my fingertips. However, the first time I tried that exercise, I was highly disappointed to find that all that came from my moderately stubby and way too average fingers was just clanging and piercing nonsense.

I think everyone, somewhere deep in their heart wants to become a better person. But this, was me wanting to be the BEST person. Because then, you cannot judge me, you cannot leave me, you cannot hurt me, and you wouldn’t want to, because I am everything you need and want… I am your god. No I didn’t intentionally ever think that wishing perfection onto myself was actually making myself into an idol, but in fact that is exactly what that is. And it made me miserable.

That kind of a life is no life. Besides how boring is it to be perfect. To never fall and bleed a little, to never sneak out and then realize your parents really do know a little more than you gave them credit for, to put too many jalapenos on nachos just because someone said you wouldn’t dare to, to put your hair in the tiny blue rollers and then realize you weren’t given those curls for a reason, to steal your sisters clothes only to have her give you some, to try trimming your own eyelashes to make them grow faster and longer like the commercial said – or your own bangs for that matter. Ah yes we try all those things and we probably fail, but just think… I’ll know forever the consequences of impulsively cutting off all my hair, of painting my toenails blue glitter, of believing everything a teenage boy says.

At the end of my journey, I found a recipe for my slaw. And it actually was inspired by many others that I have seen, and it is far from being completed, and it has no exact measurements. But that’s what I figure the right ingredients are, all the things you love, put into a bowl you love, mixed with wine you love, and given to someone you love.

Enjoy.

Anna’s Summer Slaw

  • – Half a head of Purple Cabbage (chopped)
  • – Two apples (diced)
  • – One Mango (cut however you can get it off the seed, with the skin removed)
  • – One Nectarine (or a peach, diced)
  • – A nice handful or two of Cherry Tomatoes
  • – One ear of sweet corn (fresh and cut off the cob)
  • – A good couple of splashes of Chardonnay
  • – A couple Tablespoons of Agave Syrup
  • – A couple splashes of Red Wine Vinegar
  • – Mix in some Olive Oil
  • – Fresh Mint (you can’t go wrong with how much you put in, but be very generous, as this is the most important ingredient)

– It’s best to let it marinate for a couple hours.
– Now put it in a bowl, and serve it.

Weathering of Seasons.

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Oh the season changes; how they can pull us, bend us, trick us, confuse us, infuriate us, and ultimately remind us of how completely out of control we are. Those little buds peak out from under the cold soil and all of a sudden summer shorts are being pulled out of bins and pale legs are venturing from the confines of sweat pants and warm sheets. But alas, the clouds have won once again, and we see all of our tan dreams disappear underneath a cold front that has destroyed those perfect petals and all hope of swimming pool afternoon. Winter, despite the joy of warm gloves and selfies of snowflakes on our noses, really has the less-liked vote on a scale of being a comfortable season. At least that is what I have found – in all twenty-three of my winters I have never looked as cute bundled in five layers of sweaters and scarves than white short-shorts and tank tops… a red puffy nose is not nearly appealing as freckles and the slight fragrance of tanning oil.

I find the change of seasons to be prevalent in our emotional journeys as well, and I have to say that it can be one of the most challenging things, to keep moving forward into new seasons when you couldn’t find your way around the last one. Feeling like you’re stumbling through your life with just a match that keeps getting blown out. Of all things that evil has ever proven of itself, the biggest, in my opinion is predictability. No matter how many times we get obstacles thrown at us, no matter how many different lies are whispered in our ears about ourselves, no matter how many people say the wrong thing at the absolute worst time, no matter how many nights we feel alone, no matter how many expectations threaten to ruin our best relationships… we can always be guaranteed that the same thing has happened, if not to us than to our sister who questions if her hair is long enough – soft enough, our brother who cannot seem to push himself out of that “funk” that he has been in for the past six months. Oh yes, it’s all the same story. It’s all the same lies. Your husband doesn’t desire you, you want to start making friends but can’t get over what someone told you ten years ago in middle school, there is an elephant in the room when you start singing to yourself, knowing what we should do, how we should act, who is trustworthy, what to tell people, how to be “real”, how to be just a human.

Maybe this is just me. Maybe no one else struggles over the growing pains of letting their petals bloom, only to feel the cold of winter creep over them, and wondering if the next winter if they will even show their petals at all. What does life want from me, who am I in this huge scheme of mess? Am I doing this right? Maybe I should have done something different, maybe I should have said something better, maybe I should have made myself more beautiful.

Well if there is anything that I learned in the cold, it’s that if you don’t put one foot in front of the other… you. will. freeze. You will be broken, you will be beaten, you will be (temporarily) destroyed, you will be even more confused. But if you start walking, if you just look at that beautiful body that no one else in the world has, if you just remember the things that God has promised you, if you listen to that secret song that makes you feel like a warrior over and over until you must find blue paint and a war zone… then it is possible to make it.

And not just make it, but enjoy it.