Don’t Call ‘Em as You See ‘Em…

This blog stems from a deep desire in me to not add to the negative voices in the universe. The voices whispering, “You are not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, creative enough…simply…you are not enough.” I hope to communicate a strategy I have adopted that has sent me to a different place with my children, friends and family. It has quieted some of the critical voices and shifted my semantics to speak life and love in to those around me.

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Desperate Days and a Divine Collision

I don’t know a stronger word for desperate…so we will go with it…I was desperate. I had spent the past 2.5 months away from my husband…raising 5 children on my own. Feeding, bathing, homeschooling, and hand-washing all the clothes. All.the.clothes. I watched adoptive families come and go. Their stories were never simple, but in one to two months after their arrival, I found myself waving to yet another van full of smiling faces. Driving rapidly toward the airport leaving the country and us wondering when it would be our turn? We were given a 3 year ruling…meaning the children were “ours” legally via guardianship, but they could not be adopted in Uganda until 3 years had passed. We were promised by our lawyers that our case would be overturned by the appellate court. We were told we would have a court date by the first of the year (January 2014)…and it was early February…we had heard nothing. 

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The Luxury of Calling…and I Don’t Mean Your iPhone

“Say whatever you want, it’s a free country.” Was a typical phrase filling the hallways of my middle school. We deflected random off color comments or offensive jokes…or dropped ridiculous things from our lips never thinking twice…just knowing we could say it because, it was a free country.

Recently, I have encountered some words spoken (and written) that have quite literally taken a lot of liberty to create. Words I believe many many American (and Western) Christians believe as truths. Words I would ask you to please pause and consider. Ask yourself the question:  “Is this God’s truth?” Or is this something I have heard, and my parents passed down to me, and their parents passed to them…or maybe my pastor or my Young Life leader mentioned. But pause. Ask…is it an American Christian truism…but not actually a Biblical truth? Just pause. Just ask.

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Healing Doesn’t Work…

Confession: I’ve stopped trying to heal.

I came home from Uganda in April…shell-shocked and in survival mode. We let down our defenses and I immediately got to work…doing my best big girl job to heal. I did all the right things…went to my counselor within less than 24 hours of arriving on US soil. We took a month at the beach to adjust to the western culture and to quietly unlock the grief box. And I did pretty well. I grew angry and shook my fist at God, I doubted and questioned, and then grew sad–unashamedly sad, and the stages of grief rapidly unfolded in textbook fashion.

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Identity Theft

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Most of the boys I dated in high school were super smart. I was never able to take the AP classes they had on their schedules. In fact I took two study halls to be able to complete all of the work assigned to me on a daily basis. One of my old beys graduated salutatorian, something I had to spell check because oh my goodness, absolutely. no. idea. One of the other smart boys I dated was looking at Duke and other fine institutions for college while I was praying my SAT scores would land me somewhere…anywhere. The boys I dated grew up to be men who became doctors and lawyers and such. I’ll never forget one night when “Eli” gazed in to my eyes and said he never dreamed he would date a girl as beautiful as me–and I quickly responded I could not believe I would ever date a boy as smart as he. I doubt either of us left very satisfied from this awkward label making session.

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A Seriously Excellent Excuse to Slow Down

Food shared around a table can bring some of the most healing and healthy moments to a soul. It is not necessarily the food that matters. The friendship, conversation, and laughter around our tables provide energy and encouragement to engage in the life we were meant to live. I believe it that strongly…and I believe there is research to back up the power of this intimate time.

Though the food doesn’t necessarily matter it sure is nice when it is delicious. I decided to try a brand new meal out on some friends we have known for a long time. It felt like risky business. This could go terribly wrong. And then we would just be eating salad–because it is difficult to mess that up. But I trusted my fellow foodie who shared the recipe and we forged ahead. Oh and by the by, did I mention the recipe included an uncomfortably large volume of onions? I don’t even LIKE onions. But I like food with flavor and these were promising a caramelized taste and I do like carmel and so we went with it! I went on the heavy side of seasoning and heat and decided to add this kale salad…it sweetened the spicy meal a bit…but in only the best possible way.

Because it just isn’t very nice to keep things this great to yourself…I am going to share the whole meal and hope you find the courage to try it. It is not a week night meal–or at least it isn’t in our house. The caramelizing and cooking of the lentils took at least an hour but because I didn’t want to burn them or cook them too fast, it probably took closer to an hour and a half to caramelize my onions. Years ago someone told me you spell LOVE…T I M E. This is a meal made with love…and you have been warned…don’t get angry at the chopping or length of cooking cause love takes time.

Moving forward are Jen Hatmaker’s words describing her Sweet Potato Lentil Bowls. She will guide you through how she cooks this…I personally think the recipe is pretty forgiving…so just go with it.

Sweet Potato Lentil Bowls

1 bag of brown lentils

2 cups of rice (I like basmati here)

8 cups of veggie stock

5 sweet onions

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2-3 cloves chopped garlic

Olive oil Spices: Cumin Cinnamon, Curry powder Cayenne Plain Greek yogurt for serving Chopped cilantro for serving

So basically, this is all to taste, and I am reluctant to tell you how much spice I add because it will seem irresponsible. We like spicy food, okay? Rinse and sort your lentils. Over medium heat in a pot, sauté a chopped onion and 2-3 cloves chopped garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil for about 3-4 minutes. Add the spices in any quantity that makes sense for your tribe and stir for about a minute (maybe a tsp of each for normal people?). Add the lentils and toss to coat. Add around four cups of veggie stock, cover and reduce heat to low, and cook for around an hour.

Slice up all your onions. Four will cook down so much, so don’t be scared of the enormous pile of raw onions you just amassed. In a large skillet on LOW HEAT (all caps means I am yelling), add a healthy pour of olive oil, all your onions, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir periodically and cook down for around an hour. This will turn into a sweet, carmelized pile of deliciousness that could stand alone as the whole meal if you ask my opinion, which you basically did by reading this. Peel and cube your sweet potatoes, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, and some of the same spices you used in the lentils, and roast at 375 for around 45 minutes. Cook your rice according to package directions. I like to use stock instead of water so the rice tastes like something. One part rice to two parts liquid. Plus salt! Oh my word. Unsalted rice is such cause for weeping. Layer it all up: rice, lentils, sweet potatoes, carmelized onions, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro. You could also add chopped peanuts because it is a free country. My kids pick and choose their bowl layers, but I am here to tell you that somehow every single layer together makes the magic. A couple of my kids leave off the yogurt, and their lives are the lesser for it. Leftovers are delicious the next day, and no one will even realize you served them a totally healthy vegan dinner.

Okay it’s me–Jenni again…

(Thanks for this photo…http://www.mamabirdnest.com/…I didn’t take a photo…mine was not as beautiful as this dish…but to be sure…the food tasted better than this looks.) 

I don’t know how your heart is…or how your much you are needing a slow night to be with your family or a few close friends…but this meal will give you a great excuse to do it.

Enjoy! 

May You Be a Blessing and May You Nourish Your Body and Soul…

Jenni

Staying Away from Stupid

Most 18 to 20 somethings spend their college-age years doing the stupid things in what I call the stupid years. Some get a quicker start and others are late bloomers in the area of stupidity. The stupid years are spent doing the stupid things, the hazy years, the wake up and dread, “did I really just do that?” years. The confusing years. The “who am I And where am I going?” years. We just aren’t putting all the puzzle pieces together and for some we aren’t even trying. Oh, and not only do we do stupid things, we care too much! But not in a good way caring…in a bad way caring. Caring what others do, say, or think. We think SO many thoughts about their thoughts. If I could reclaim and bundle the hours I spent thinking about what others were thinking–I am pretty sure I could take at least a week’s vacation. We care too much in the stupid years but we also strive too much. We strive to be something we are not. We strive to be someone we are not. And some of us realize quicker than others we are striving and we stop. But if you are in the stupid years or care too much or are still striving…just stop. You be you.

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