Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sweet Potatoes

Over the weekend, while shopping at our local farmer's market, we picked up a couple of sweet potatoes. I usually don't buy something that's not on my list, but we couldn't turn down the price, and David isn't exactly a "vegetable guy," so if he's game for a particular vegetable, you know I'm gonna incorporate it into dinner. I'll admit, as I bagged the sweet potatoes I thought to myself, "Gonna have to Pinterest this..."

So, this afternoon after a quick Pinterest search, I settled on a recipe for parmesan cheese roasted sweet potatoes. They looked super easy to make and healthy. However, I had to scroll down a little further, just in case I stumbled upon something better.

And there it was: "Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Soup." It practically screamed my name.

I'm a soup girl, just like my mom. Even if it's summer I can eat soup. And I love really good cold soups too... Like lentil soup. Yum. : )

I clicked on the link and was purely delighted to see that I had all of the few ingredients called for. I quickly changed my mind, we'd have broccoli instead of parmesan sweet potatoes with our salmon tonight.. It would probably go better together anyway.

I chopped the sweet potatoes and popped them in the oven with EVOO and sea salt.

I diced my sweet onion and carrots and let them sauté with the minced garlic.

The aroma took me to a place I'd never been before... Cooking with Confidence.

Before long, my quinoa was cooked, and I was opening the box which held the unused immersion blender David had bought me last fall.

My intention was to make the soup today, let it cool, freeze half, and refrigerate the other half for lunch this week. But, once it was done, the smell filling the house, the soft chunks of sweet potato calling to my taste buds... And after all, I had to taste it to be sure it didn't require additional seasoning.

One taste wasn't enough.

"Maybe we'll have chicken nuggets for dinner. And I'll have a cup of this for an appetizer!"

It was delicious, and by far the best soup I've ever made. Sometimes soups of this nature can be too sweet, but this was just right. And, the quinoa gave it incredible texture along with a good boost of protein. Best of all, every ingredient was already in my fridge/pantry, and it was super simple to make.

If you like sweet potatoes and soup, definitely give this one a try (click here for recipe), and let me know if you LOVED it as much as I did! Bon a petit!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Eagles & Lambs

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Over the past two days, this verse has been everywhere. Read aloud on the radio, tucked into several songs played on my pandora stations, in our pastor's sermon yesterday, in the book I'm reading ...

I finally realized this morning that God probably wanted me to dwell on this verse.

And so I remember that this verse isn't just a verse. It's a promise. When you hope in the Lord, your strength will be renewed.

When I feel weak, when I feel like I just can't do it anymore, when I feel alone, if I'll put my hope in the Lord, I'll experience a renewal of strength. I will not only make it through, I'll SOAR! I, me, Lindsay with the once bum-knee that is now being restored, will RUN this race of life without growing weary of the path that God's laid before me. And as I walk each step closer to God, closer to LOVE, closer to eternal certainty, I will not grow tired.

....

Growing up, each of us children had a holiday of which we shared ownership with our Dad. Passover was my holiday. 

You might be thinking, isn't she a Christian? Isn't Passover a Jewish holiday? Did I miss something here? Did she grow up Jewish?

No. We're not Jewish, or of Jewish descent. I am a Follower of Christ and was raised in a Christian home. And, yes, we celebrated Passover.

Why? 

Well, The Jews celebrate(d) Passover to remember back to when they were in bondage in Egypt and specifically the night that God spared the first born Israelites. 

While Moses was continuously asking Pharaoh to free the enslaved Jews, God sent all kinds of horrible plagues upon Egypt - this being the last one:

"For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement: I am the Lord." Exodus 12:12

God instructed Moses and Aaron that if each home would apply the blood from an unblemished lamb to the top of their doorway and along the doorposts, when He passed through Egypt and saw the blood around the door, it would be a sign to Him to pass over that home and spare that firstborn. (Exodus 12:13)

God included some other instructions, and one of them was that this event be remembered year after year. 

"It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them (the Israelites) out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations." Exodus 12:42

So, hundreds of years later, Jesus likewise celebrated Passover. 

If you look at the instructions for preparing and celebrating Passover in Exodus, they're pretty detailed and riddled with symbolism pointing towards the future sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And, that is why my family celebrated Passover, to remember not only what God did the night of the first Passover but to remember the sacrifice of Jesus. 

...

As I dwell on this verse in Isaiah, I am humbled by the strength of our Savior. 

He was God, there, sitting at the table with His disciples, celebrating the Passover. He knew what was coming. He knew that back when the Jews experienced the first Passover, God was setting an example of what was to come. 

Only the blood of a perfect lamb would do. It was only that blood that could spare life. Jesus knew His was the only blood that could serve as retribution for the judgement of all mankind. That night, He said to his disciples, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:28

Sitting there, I have to believe that Jesus likewise put his hope in God, His Father. Why? He was fully God, yes, but He was also human. And, the agony and duress He was about to experience would not only be physically taxing to the point of death, but emotionally distressing as well. To see your beloved friends abandon you... To watch your mother cry while you hang from nails hammered into wood... To listen to the very people you're dying for mock you... To feel your lungs fill with fluid while you press your feet into the nails through your ankles to support your body up so you might breathe another breath... To do all this willingly... 

What strength would be needed in order to endure this by choice...

What love... 

Love that I can only barely, with my little human brain, understand. 

When we put our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, that is when our strength is renewed. Why? Because we've already seen the proof of God's love for us: He willingly became the unblemished lamb whose blood we need to spare our life. Remembering this, how can our strength not be renewed? His love for us today is just as great as it was for us then.

These next several days as we make our way to Good Friday, I'll dwell on the strength and love of my Savior, who became a lamb for the whole world. I'll put my hope in the Lord, and my strength will be renewed. I'll soar on wings as eagles, I will RUN and not grow weary, I will walk and not be faint.

"Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

White Smoke

As I watched the images on my television screen of the white smoke flowing out from that chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, and as I listened to the people cheer and the news reporters excitedly announce that the new pope would soon be appearing on the balcony, I was overcome with mixed emotions.

Look at all those people...

VIVA IL PAPA!

Look at how packed in they are...

VIVA IL PAPA!

Look at all of the excitement, joy, and eagerness...

VIVA IL PAPA!

Do all of these people practice Catholicism? Maybe they all call themselves Catholics, but do they actually practice on a daily basis? Are some of these people there just because they want to witness a historic event? What a coincidence for people who just happen to be there on vacation this week- getting to see history unfold before them. Why am I watching this? I'm not Catholic. Why does this mean so much to so many people? Why do those of us who aren't Catholic even care? 

VIVA IL PAPA! ... They continue to chant.

I wonder, if Jesus was about to walk onto that balcony, would a city today flock to catch a glimpse of Him? 

I think of the times when I've witnessed similarly large gatherings of people gather simply in the name of Christ.

...

VIVA IL PAPA! ... They continue to chant... Now they're jumping up and down. 

I recall Christians jumping as they worship. Uninhibited. Excited to be alive now and forever. Excited to know and be in intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe. 

Conversely, I recall a cathedral in Ecuador. My dear friend Monica Proano wanted to take us through the largest cathedral in Ecuador a few years ago. As we walked inside, I first noticed how beautiful it was. Everything was ornately decorated. It was huge and filled with people. There were paintings upon paintings on the walls portraying famous Bible stories. 

I felt myself becoming anxious. I wanted to leave. I'd seen enough... It didn't matter how beautiful everything was, or how many people were there, or what the priests and bishops said ... I felt the absence of God in that place. 

After leaving the cathedral, Monica told me that was the very reason was why she wanted to take us there. She wanted us to better understand the Catholics of Ecuador. I learned the first time I visited Ecuador (as a 15 year old) that Catholicism looks different in different places of South and Central America. Many people, particularly the people who live in more rural areas, practice a blend of Catholicism and Mayan/Aztec/Incan beliefs, depending on which country they live in. 

...

As I waited for the new pope to be announced, I thought about the woman I spoke with this past summer during one of our clinics in Guatemala. She told me she wanted to accept Christ as her Savior, but she couldn't, because she needed the support she received from her Catholic church. I desperately wanted her to "get it." She couldn't. She was in bondage to a lie that she wouldn't let go of - Christ isn't enough.

...

VIVA IL PAPA! 

"God, wouldn't it be amazing if this new pope 'got it.' If he understood the true Gospel," I prayed.

I've met Catholics who understand the true gospel, who believe that it is only our belief in Christ's death on the cross that saves us from the punishment we're due for our sins. That there is only one way to God, and it's not through good works, or our own sacrifices, or a pope - it's through Jesus. 

"God, the influence of the Catholic church... It's so far-reaching. So many people are connected to it world-wide. It would be so great if the 'leader' of it got it right."

...

Pope Francis from Argentina. 'The Pope of the People' the newscasters are saying. The Humble Pope.

...

I sat there and looked at a man's face. A man who so many had just put their faith in. And I got it. The reason everyone is so excited is because maybe this guy has the answers. After all, the majority of the cardinals thinks he does. 
...

At our core, no matter where we live, no matter how we were brought up, we want answers. And more than anything we want the big answer to the biggest question of all - what happens when I die? Will I be enough to get me through to what comes next? And if I'm not enough, who can help me be enough?

They think Pope Francis will be enough. He'll help lead people to Christ. He'll pray to Mary for them. He'll pray blessings over them. Maybe that will be enough, they'll hope.

It won't.

But, Christ, Christ is enough. When it's hard and it's scary and it's lonely, when you're standing in the middle of a cathedral without a god, when it's easier to take control of everything into your own hands and believe in the "security net" you feel that you've established for yourself maybe that's exactly the time when you're supposed to acknowledge that nothing is enough to help you except the One who gave His life to SAVE YOU. 

"For by grace you have been save through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 1:8

It's Jesus. Only Jesus. He is the only answer and will always be enough.


Your grace is enough,
Your grace is enough,
Your grace is enough for me....
Yeah, your grace is enough,
Heaven reaching down to us,
Your grace is enough for me, for me.
Chris Tomlin, 'Your Grace Is Enough'

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friendship

I love to travel and explore new places.

And, I love things that remind me of beautiful places, like this painting I found at an antique store down the street! (For only $19.95!!)


It reminds me of St. John of the US Virgin Islands. David and I spent a day exploring a corner of this island while we were on our honeymoon.

Since traveling and exploring is something God's hard wired into my being, I'm so grateful that the husband He created for me shares the same passion! When there are opportunities for me to travel and David can't come too, because he understands the desire to go and explore, he's super supportive of me going, even if he has to stay behind.

Last weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to head South to my birth city (SAN ANTONIO, TX) to visit friends and family. 

It was such a beautiful weekend spent with friends and family; there's just so much to share about it. But, one of the biggest take-aways I have from the weekend is of how much love can exist between friends. 

I got to spend all afternoon on Saturday with one of my best friends in the whole-wide world, Ashley. 

Ashley and I met in biology class in high school. My first impression of Ashley was that she was pretty cool because she could pull off wearing a red sweater jacket over a yellow shirt with green pants and look like she stepped out of a GAP catalog. (To this day I don't see how those colors can go together, but she did it!) 

I'm not sure if the fact that we both came from families with deep roots in San Antonio played a part in the development of our friendship, but sharing an understanding of that glorious city and our families' loyalty to it definitely created an extra bond between us. 

Ashley is one of the very few people who knows what my complete heart looks like. Not only has she been there to celebrate my victories and accomplishments, but she's walked with me through my hardest struggles. 

When I was 16 years old, Ashley came over to visit me shortly after the bandages came off of my leg from it's first surgery. Sitting in that doctor's office staring at the purple, eight inch scar up and across my knee, I was horrified. The staples, the shriveled calf muscle, and the leg hair that hadn't been tended to in a loooongg time made it so much worse. It looked hideous.  

But, I showed it to Ashley that evening after I'd gotten home. As I fought back tears while opening my leg brace, Ashley didn't bat an eye. She didn't wince. She didn't purse her lips or tilt her head. She excitedly smiled and said, "You've got a battle scar! It's cool!"

In that brief moment, she taught me how to trust a friend when you're feeling vulnerable or insecure and fearing judgement. Ashley did not judge me, but instead accepted and affirmed me. 

That set a precedent for the rest of my life of what true friendship requires. In place of judgement, within a friendship, you have accountability. A friend says, "I'm not going to judge you because of your flaw, I'm going to help keep you accountable so that your flaw doesn't consume you."

"AS IRON SHARPENS IRON, SO A MAN SHARPENS THE COUNTENANCE OF HIS FRIEND." Proverbs 27:17

Ashley's getting married this summer, to a young man whom I truly believe God created to be her husband. And, sitting in her apartment last weekend, I couldn't keep the tears back. Not this time. These weren't tears of insecurity, but truly tears of joy.  

I didn't expect to be so emotional, but having been on this adventure of marriage for the last 2+ years with the man God created to be my husband, I was overjoyed to know that my best friend was about to embark on her's. 

Leaving Ashley's to meet up with my mom and her best-friend-Roxanne only perpetuated the weekend theme of friendship. Listening to my mom and Roxanne tell stories, watching them talk to each other, seeing how much they care about each other - it's not just because they've known each other since they were teenagers. It's because at some point, someone made a choice to be vulnerable, and the other reciprocated with acceptance and accountability. 

...

Ashley and I are notorious for always forgetting to take pictures of the two of us together, so here's a favorite throwback from Mr. Still's Honors Chem Class. 

Fall Semester 2003

Congratulations to Ashley and Andrew on your engagement! 
Soooo happy for you!!!!

...

And Praise the Lord for my-mom's-best-friend-Roxanne!

March 3, 2013

We're praying for you, beautiful fighter! Claiming that soon we'll hear the cancer is gone!!

...

To me, those photos above are even more beautiful than the destination in my painting. : )

"A friend loves at all times." Provers 17:17a