Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rise Up...

This is going to be short and sweet, no waxing on poetic tonight. These words, this song raise strength and hope in my spirit and put a my-Jesus-can-do-all-things smile on my face.

I don’t know your struggles or worries or pains… but bring them to the Lord, His LOVE is unending, 
His MERCIES never fail, and His GRACE is abundantly sufficient.

My JESUS makes all things new.

Take a few minutes and let these words fill your heart to the brim...

Come broken and weary
Come battered and bruised
My Jesus makes all things new
All things new

Come lost and abandoned
Come blown by the wind
He’ll bring you back home again
Home again

Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
The light of the dawn is upon you
Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
He makes all things new
All things new

Come burning with shame
Come frozen with guilt
My Jesus, he loves you still
Loves you still

Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
The light of the dawn is upon you
Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
He makes all things new
All things new

So hold on to the promise
The stories are true
That Jesus makes all things new
(The dawn is upon you)
          Words by Andrew Peterson
           Music by Andrew Peterson, Ben Shive, and Andy Gullahorn

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Gift of Listening

Tonight I sat on my lovely backyard swing (a thoughtful anniversary gift from my husband) and listened to the grasshoppers sing and the tall grass sway in the wind as the sky slowly turned from a canvas of sun-setting pinks to a dusky grey. As I sat and listened, I realized what a wonderful gift I had surrounding me. I love to sit, gently rocking back and forth and simply listen.

As I think through my non-backyard swing moments though, which unfortunately fill the majority of my day, I wonder how good I am at listening. So often I find myself interjecting thoughts and opinions right over the top of someone else’s, running over words of another to get MY point across, MY voice heard.

The gift of listening is one I need to work at to give. But the work is well worth it.
When I think about the last time I was truly listened to and not just heard, when the recipient of my words was actively engaged in my ramblings of joy and sorrow, weeping and dancing, I felt more than just the benefits of a genuine conversation – one filled with trust and love and encouragement. I felt valued and cared for and important. Loved. And so, when these feelings fill my heart, I long to give that same gift of listening to another – to genuinely listen to love. Not to listen to stick-my-opinion-in-quick-here or tell-about-my-experience there, but to affirm and value and esteem. THAT is what makes the work of listening without turning the attention back on my worth-while – to be able to bless some one else simply by listening. To encourage and esteem first with my ears and then with my mouth.

I wrote a few days ago about desiring for my words to be Prudent and Purposeful. Today, I add to that… I desire that my listening be Encouraging and Esteeming.
I think it’s an undertaking… a constant dying to self for the benefit of blessing of another.
But I look to the Lord and His example

“Jesus [knew] the power of this blessing. He made a habit of bestowing it on the most insignificant, unnoticed people of His day. Jesus – the only true know-it-all to ever walk the earth, who legitimately had no good reason for listening to a single word from anyone – chose on many occasions to stop, to wait, to listen, to give attention to another before speaking Himself… He listened to the clever dodges and smokescreens of the woman at the well [John 4], He listened to Peter and the other disciples boasting that they would never deny or desert Him [Matthew 26], He listened to the call of an individual blind man [Luke 18], the accusatory statements of a discouraged prophet [Habakkuk 1], the delineated questions of a man suffering unexplained misery [Job 3], the whining tirade of a bitter, unbecoming man [Jonah 4]…”
 - The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer

By His great love He listens – to mourning hearts and joyful praise, to pleading whispers and thankful shouts… to look more like Him, I need to listen more like Him…

…To be a blessing to those who need a gracious ear and silent lips!

photo credit: govan riverside via photo pin cc

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Rainy Sunday Pot Roast Recipe...

Yesterday I woke early and, in typical fashion, refused to get out of bed until the clock hit a number later than 8 o’clock. Instead of getting up late and meandering through my morning, however, I lay in bed and let the to-do list roll. Which inevitably creates a rather busy day instead of the quiet one I had planned as the anxiety level on all the to-do’s slowly raises to the surface…

And so I pulled myself out of bed and set to the tasks I had mindlessly ticked off just a few minutes prior. But as I pulled back the curtains, I inadvertently stumbled upon a “rainy Sunday.”

Let me try to explain… I LOVE absolutely, positively adore rainy Sundays. These are the days for snuggled up secrets and lazy book reading and early morning movies and cocoa for lunch…

My first thought upon seeing those lovely little raindrops hitting the double paned window was – scrap the list and make some yummy pot roast! 2 flaws with this plan…

One: I didn’t have potatoes AND my moments-from-delicious rump roast was most definitely frozen
And Two: After my last attempt at making my mother in law’s time tested, forever favorite recipe turned out a disaster (these are my words, my husband assured me it was fine) I vowed never to make pot raost again!

And yet, for some reason unbeknownst to me I found myself donning a rain jacket and galoshes in a torrential downpour – on a quest for the perfect roasting potatoes. (Funny how it always begins to rain harder the moment you step out the door, huh?)

Apparently, rainy Sundays are THE day to make pot roast because… it was delicious… and after a bite of braised on the outside moist on the inside rump roast and slightly sweet and perfectly salty potatoes, I deemed the rather soak-y trip to the grocery store a small sacrifice… 

And, while my rainy Sunday was most certainly not spent doing “rainy Sunday” things (I had to do something while I waited for the roast to cook or I would’ve poked and prodded and futzed around with adding liquid or basting or… until I absolutely ruined it!)

Here’s the “recipe.” Just in case you find yourself needing something scrumptious on your next rainy Sunday… 

DISCLAIMER: If you are indeed looking for my mother in law’s excellent pot roast recipe, this isn’t it – I decided no one can make it the way she does (there must be a secret ingredient in there somewhere) and I made my own from a myriad of “I think I remember this from a recipe I read once in my quest to fix the aforementioned pot roast debacle” moments as I went along instead.

As I said, I started with a frozen rump roast (chuck roast would be good too, probably better actually, but I’m in to using what I have on hand lately and we can finally see the back of the freezer!) which I defrosted in a pot of cold water. (Keep the meat in its original air-tight packaging with enough water to cover, change it every 30 minutes or so to keep the process moving along – my 2.5 pound roast only took about 2 hours to thaw, leaving me plenty of time for our cherished early Sunday dinner)

With the stovetop around medium high, heat your pot/dutch oven (or if your aunt has so generously gifted you with a beautiful le creuset braising pan, use that – thanks Aunt Julie!!!)

Prep your veggies (I used an onion - quartered, 4 large baking potatoes –cut a little larger than bite sized, and a few handfuls of baby carrots. (I happened to have some rather un-appealing looking baby carrots left over from some salad or veggie platter which I deemed acceptable for the task, full sized carrots cut about the same size as the potatoes work too… obviously I’m not much for exact cooking)
Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the pan – make sure it’s piping hot before cooking the vegetables.

Add in the onions, make sure they’re really sizzling and brown on both sides (about a minute per side). Remove them from the pan and set aside. 

Do the same with the carrots, adding more oil if you need it.

While the veggies are cooking, season the meat – plenty of salt and pepper (I used sea salt for those extra coarse grains)

Make sure your pan is still hot and add a bit more oil before throwing in the meat. Braise it on all sides, about a minute each. (Or if you’re like me and multitasking and the dishes distract you and it ends up being more like 3, you’re fine too!)

Now, deglaze the pan – I used about a cup of beef broth. Let it simmer a bit and then set a whisk to the bottom to pick up all of those scrumptious drippings everything left behind.

Place the meat back in, then the onions and carrots and potatoes.

 Add enough broth to cover the meat… or in my case, add until the box runs out and hope its enough to keep the roast moist!

Cover (admire your beautiful cookware – I really do LOVE this pan) and plop it in the oven at 275 for about 3 hours. (For a larger roast around 4 or 5 pounds, plan on 4 hours)

And then – don’t touch it! This is the hardest part for me… for some reason I feel the need to poke and double check and rearrange… but really, a roast can just be left alone – I will admit I checked halfway through to make sure nothing was smoking, but I did have to do quite the list of things to keep myself distracted – clean the bathroom, dust the bedroom, wipe down the floors, paint my windows (more on that later)…
 There really are carrots in there, they're just hiding under all those potatoes!

And finally, when you can’t resist the scrumptious smell drifting from the oven and your stomach sets to rumbling, sit down to eat a delicious rainy Sunday dinner.

I hope you enjoy, we sure did! And I don’t think I’ll need to swear off pot roast again…

Thursday, August 23, 2012


{1} Knowing What to Say, and {2} Not Saying It

“A woman who is quick to listen is one who gathers up all the information before releasing her reaction. She resists the urge to spout off everything in her mind before it formulates, choosing rather to give her solutions time to settle, to become properly shaped before being shared. When she speaks, her advice and assessments are sensible and sober. Prudent and purposeful.”

I read this earlier this week and thought,  hmmm… I don’t think I can say that for myself. Too often I find myself only half-heartedly listening to see where I can interject my opinion, story, idea, solution, etc., or talking over the other to get my point across, just a little quicker and a little louder. 

I desire to have the words that I speak be Prudent and Purposeful. Sometimes this mean I need to keep my mouth shut!

“…someone who’s long abandoned the need to impress others or be the center of attention. In its place she’s acquired the ease and freedom that unsaddles from pride and pretense, from anything that compels the desire to be noticed or to force her importance onto the group. In humility and appreciation of others, she’s content just being a participant like everyone else. She doesn’t think she’s always right and that she alone knows all the answers. Just listen and learn. Contemplate and consider. Weigh and wait…
                This is Wisdom.”

James says if we can control our tongue we control our whole body. 

“If anyone does not stumble in what he says he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body” James 3:2

“[Consider] ships. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark…With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

And so, my convictions set me to action. I have resolved that my words be prudent and purposeful. It’s not been easy – I find myself needing to hold my tongue much more than I anticipated, but I have also found and that there is a blessing in silence and a joy in listening. And in those, I long to live in.

All quotes aside from those Biblical come from “The Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer, her book can be found here

photo credit: bookish in north park via photo pin cc
photo credit: MarcelGermain via photo pin cc
photo credit: . SantiMB . via photo pin cc

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I have a confession to make... I am a pathological closet purger... I get the itch to rummage through the hangers and drawers and get rid of - well, as much as possible. And I've been known to go back a few days later and repeat the process again...

Here are the results of my most recent attempt... so long, farewell!!!

Once I start on a project like this, I want to tear through the entirety of my earthly belongings and de-clutter as much as possible... that's been my current obsession.
Truth is, my postage stamp apartment doesn't have much room for many non-essentials, but because of it's tiny footprint, I find myself thinking my husband and I have collected much more than we could possibly need. And so, I settled on the closet (a comfortable and familiar place to start) and think my next stop may be the cavernous (quite possibly the only large storage space we have) utensil drawers filled with excessive amounts of spatulas and measuring cups and kitchen gadgets. (Apparently somebody got a little trigger happy with that wedding registry gun - but who would've thought we would be so generously gifted every single kitchen utensil we requested???)

My newest inspiration for eliminating, minimizing, tossing, and pitching can be found here...
I love Kelly's fresh perspective on living simply. I encourage  you to read through the why's and how's and find something small that you can do to make a little more room, a little more time, and a little less "stuff." I am purposing to slowly and thoughtfully sift through all the extra STUFF - using less to give more.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:21

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Reading...

Doesn’t this just look wonderful? I can think of nothing more blissful than meandering through a perfectly clear day with my favorite book and a quietly swinging hammock…

Here’s my current reading list…

And a special few I like to keep nearby just in case I happen upon a sentimental feeling to reread a favorite …

Now, to settle in with a good book in the fading summer sunlight... that seems to be quietly turning in to Autumn these days...
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