Friday, April 29, 2011

Holding back

I want to exercise more, watch less TV, read more - especially before bed, be a better student, a better listener, spend more time outside in the beauty of the PNW.

These are not new goals, they are not even new thoughts on this blog. You have all heard me complaining for a long time about the things I want to change but can't or choose not to.

I have been thinking recently about who I want to be as a mother. I want to make these changes to be an example to my children. I want to live a life that says there is more to the world than the big box in the living room, there are books and music and nature and a huge world to discover. People and relationships come first, and community is important because we make one another better.

In my mind, having a baby would give me a reason to make some of these changes, especially the ones that would be more uncomfortable or the biggest adjustments. Why would I want to have the TV on if I had a little one to talk to, surely having a baby would give more motivation to get outside, walk more be active.

I am sure mothers reading are laughing at my naivety, my illusion of the ease of motherhood. But that's ok, it's my prerogative right as a not-yet-mother to have that. I don't want to hear about how its not so easy, or "just want and see, you'll be begging for your old life back, just one day to not have to worry about another person" I am sure that is true, but I would like to live under my illusion until the second it is shattered by sleepless nights and poopy diapers and interrupted showers. Until then, let me dream like you all did before you knew better!

Anyway, back to the point. The road of infertility has left scars, but it has also taken away my motivation to be better for myself. I had to have a focus outside of my situation to get out of bed in the morning. If I didn't hope to be a mother one day, I may just give up, what's the point. But I have that hope. So each morning I do get out of bed and on with the day. For a while, before the losses piled so high, I was motivated to change because babies were imminent or so I thought. When I read old blogs about eating better and being active, I can hear it in my words. I believed my pre-baby time was very much limited.

When I have been pregnant, I have felt so awful that I have really had to fight to do the right thing. To eat right, to take vitamins, to get out and about, I can muster it when it's for our baby, it doesn't seem like such a chore, or such a hard adjustment at all.

But now, with little hope in my heart (if I am really honest) that we will conceive naturally and uncertainty about where our journey will lead, I feel like all my mummy motivation has left the building. It seems so far away that I want to hide away and find solace and comfort in the routines of old. The bad habits and the heaviness of a desire to change but without the follow through to make it happen are old companions, faithful and constant.

I need a kick in the pants. Seriously stop it with the doom and gloom. Woe is me is so last year. So as the sun begins to finally shine I am taking charge. I know you have heard this before, I know I have said it before. But something feels different this time. I want to make these changes for myself. Yes, I want to make them for my family I want to be the mother I always pictured being but I first want to be the women I know I can be, if I choose to get uncomfortable.

Why do I think it will be easier to change when we have a baby? I wonder if it feels like more than I can handle before that. So many bad habits act as a buffer between me and the reality of my situation. Habits that brings comfort or at least numbness when sadness hits. Once we have kids, however we have them, I want to model healthy habits. The only way they get to see me handling life without using things to numb when it gets tough, is if I start working to change now. So by the time they get here I will have it down, or at least I will be further down the road of getting it!

Pray for me if you think of it - It's going to be a bumpy ride at first but I am excited to lay in bed at the end of the day and feel happy about the way I spent my day instead of having regret and "must do better" thoughts as I fall asleep.

So I am doing this for waiting for babies, no holding back.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon in my kitchen cooking up a storm of breakfast muffins, tea cakes (for the Royal Wedding celebrations tomorrow, of course!) Soup for dinner and also preparing a meal to take to some friends who just had a baby. I was almost giddy as the mixer whirred, the timer pinged and things bubbled away on the stove and baked in the oven! Love it!

This morning I woke up, cleaned the now quiet kitchen, then scrubbed the bathrooms before tackling the vacuuming and making the bed. Snack break for some Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Cakes and a cup of decaf brings me to now.

As I step back and look at our home, the walls we have painted, the carpet we laid, the photos on the walls and all the other things we have done to turn this house into our home. I recognise that our home has been our baby for the last couple of years. As our pregnancies failed over and over, our nesting instinct kicked in in even stronger waves and the four walls of home soaked it up.

Our house filled a couple of needs for us. It gave us a common purpose. A project (or twelve) that we could plan for, shop for (hey, on a budget retain therapy in Home Depot is sometimes as good as it gets - but I'll take it!) and it gave us time to spend together not thinking overtly anyway, about babies. There was also a different element that was important, the house projects were attainable in our own strength. If we decided that our dining room should be blue instead of orange, we painted it. When we wanted to take out the fireplace surround and re-design our mantle we did (that 'we' included J's Dad!). We could make a plan, and it would happen. So appealing in comparison to the lack of power we have in changing our lack-of-baby circumstance.

For me the last year especially has been a season of nesting. I know that late in pregnancy it is something that women deal with, preparing a space for a baby to enter. If I ever experience this as part of pregnancy, heaven help us all! I love our house to be 'company ready' at any time. So I have a pretty regular cleaning routine, making sure that things are clean and tidy. It helps that J is a bit of a neat freak because while I like things to be clean I am not uncomfortable with clutter!! We have found a happy medium!

We both consider our home a step in preparation for our family. We want a beautiful place to bring our babies home. It is our labor of love. I am under no illusion that I will care so much less about house projects once my hands are busy with caring for little ones, but I love that we can make our house beautiful in the mean time. And we are. I love our house. I love that it feels like home. I love having people here in our space and making them feel welcome. That feels like an answer to prayer, when we were almost engaged and house-hunting we asked that God would lead us to a place that would be a place of hospitality and community. Check. Prayer answered.

It has been less appealing to have a houseful while I have been more consumed with baby stuff. I suppose consumed with grief too. Who wants to be around someone who is bursting into tears at the drop of a hat? Or more so, who wants to host a houseful of people when they keep bursting into tears?! So we haven't invited as much. But a change is coming.

As winter turns to spring (we hope?) we look forward to grilling on the deck on lazy afternoons, perhaps even a long overdue house warming party?!

I am just hoping our long 'to do' list for our house keeps our hands busy until we need to be changing diapers and finger painting! My life may not be full of all the things I want today, but it is a good life, full of good things that I want to share with those I love.

Consider this an open invite - come on over...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's for Dinner Wednesday - Lemon Lentil Soup

I love, love, love the tastes of fall and winter. The soups and stews that offer warmth and comfort in the cooler weather are always what I am in the mood for when it comes to dinner time. However, in spite of the weather not realising that it is well into spring, I am determined to try and break out some spring-ier ingredients.

It is my last meal post for April, so I wanted the lentil theme to go out with a bang! This was originally a recipe I got given by a friend, who I believe got it from another friend so I am not sure who gets the credit for this delicious dish but tonight for dinner we had Lemon Lentil Soup.

This dish is delicious, and so simple with only a few ingredients. It is not only a fabulous experience for your taste buds, it is also a treat for the nose. After the onions and cumin have cooked and you add the lentils, lemon zest and broth it wafts the most amazing fresh, citrus scent!

I hope that your home will be filled with the scents of spring, as your tummy gets full of this wonderful soup. It's simplicity is only part of it's charm. Enjoy.

3 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, or 4 if you love garlic like we do!
2 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 C red lentils, washed and drained
7 C water or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 lemon zest cut into thin strips
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
lemon slices for garnish

1. In a large pot, heat the oil and then saute the onions and garlic until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the cumin and saute for another minute.

2. Add lentils, water or stock, bay leaves and lemon strips.

3. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and let simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

4.Add lemon juice and salt. Cook for a few more minutes.

5. Garnish with thinly sliced lemon rounds and chopped cilantro.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Took a while to get here, and we're not done yet

Moving away from your life at 23 across the world and starting over was never in my life plan. Actually I never really had much of a life plan at all. I saw myself finishing school, being a teacher, getting married, having kids and living in the same place I grew kids going to the same schools I did, having the same opportunities and being a art of the same community.

Not that this was a bad plan, or would have been a bad life. Actually, I think it would have been a pretty great life.

Anxiety disorder shifted the plans of teaching when attending university was suddenly not a plausible reality and the dream of marriage with the boy I loved in a very Dawson and Joey type of way ended.

Suddenly, the few plans I had fell away and I felt exposed and so very vulnerable. When my health began to improve, and there was light and possibility in my world again I felt very calm about the new purpose I had discovered for life. Nothing specific, but I just knew that I had been healed, through the prayers and love of my family and church and there was a greater purpose for my life now. More than just picking up where I had left off.

This was when I found information about YWAM and got connected with the organization which would be the vessel through which Jesus decided to completely shatter what I thought I knew, and rebuild my heart in His image.

I headed to Seattle and from there to Thailand, China, and Zambia, with stops in Canada, Costa Rica, Texas, California, Montana, Connecticut too. All these places, were a part of the story. Meetings with people who'd God given passions and gifts challenged, inspired and changed me. Times of worship that allowed me freedom to find expressions of worship that were my own. Ministry opportunities which dragged me from my comfort zone and forced my hands to gt dirty in ways that humbled me to the core and revealed my still selfish and fearful heart.

My experience taught me how to serve; how to love and how to pray. I had the opportunity to walk with others on their faith journey, to challenge them, and even more be challenged myself. I found a passion for discipleship, and passion to see others step more fully in the story God was writing with their lives and it continues to be a joy and blessing to watch their lives, God at work, as we remain in touch.

In those years I discovered a passion for Africa, and for the beauty of that nation. A part of life God continues to shape and refine and a chapter God is not done with yet.

I have no regrets of my time in ministry. Some of those I worked with left with hurts and frustrations. Anger even at God, and what their service had cost them. I feel so blessed that my story is different. I am not sure why I came out unscathed but I am thankful that is the case. My life changed for the better because of my experiences and because of the people that were my family for so many years.

For a long time I felt a big divide between the life i had known in England and the new life I had here. I wasn't sure how the two connected and I felt the strain of being a link between two different worlds but over time and thanks to technology and therapy this is much less of an issue.

I have had a good life, in England and in Seattle, I have had a good life. I have had good friends, constantly been surrounded with people to laugh with and people who wanted to know me and were open to being known by me.

Just yesterday I took a brief trip down memory lane commenting on a photo taken on my last day of high school, a friend had posted and another friend and I went back and forth laughing about our adventures and especially one memorable teacher (thanks Fahan and Nicola), It made me feel all warm. I miss home, and yet, I am home.

I miss England. I am sad that I miss family gatherings, birthday bar-B-Q's. I am sad that while many of my high school friends remain close, the distance has prevented that from being my story. I will miss terribly being around for the hype of the Royal wedding. For a little country, the air is electric for events like that, or football matches, or 'who shot Phil Mitchell' episodes of Eastenders. There are so many, many wonderful things about the place I was raised. My love of celebration comes from my upbringing for sure, my understanding of church as community is rooted in the decades of attendance at SBC, But I bring it all with me.

I brought what life in England had formed and allowed Seattle to continue to shape me. While I hope, leaving a little of the lessons from England on those I meet here...and so it continues. Life, that is. And life is Good.

Been thinking a lot about how I got here. To today. Funny how they bad stuff is easily forgotten, but the good still makes me smile.

Monday, April 25, 2011

From the 'if ' to the 'when' - Happy Easter

The last week of the month, and our financial Peace University lessons have finished now but we are still learning the ropes of budgeting. I say that because we are in the final week of April, and will be relying on Easter leftovers to keep us on budget! ha ha

We celebrated Easter at our church yesterday morning and it was exciting to launch our Spilling Hope Campaign for the third year. As a community we are challenged to live Simply, save money and the at the end of 50 days, Give generously toward building wells in Uganda, Africa. The message of being a New Creation continues to ring loudly in my head.

I am a New Creation. In Christ's death and resurrection, I am made new. What does that look like in my day to day life? I am pretty sure I am not living in a way that shouts of this new life.

Last night in a moment of tears and yet another round of "why is this so hard?" questioning, Jeremy held me tight and simply said, "You will be a mother someday and you will be a great mother. It will happen. We will have a child. You can relax because we know someday, someway it will happen." (that may not be totally verbatim but it's close) I am not sure what was different from many other conversation we have had but something was. He is always an anchor when my heart is feeling tossed by the storm. I believe it was in part the result of the prayer deep in my heart to get unstuck. To move past just the sadness and the fear of the "what if's?"

Last fall when we first began to face the truth that baby making may not be the simple process it can be for others I started many of my sentences with "when we have a baby..." I was sad but far from hopeless. I had questions and wonderings, but I had dreams. Big beautiful dreams about our life with a baby.

Over time. Through losses and tears the 'whens' turned into 'ifs.'

The combination of the Easter Sunday message of hope and possibility, the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself that go a little way to making God visible in a world that needs Him so much, my prayer to be lifted out of the sorrow, and Jeremy's strength and calm voice speaking truth worked together to remind me that I can stop fretting. I can get rid of the 'if' and replace it again with the 'when.'

Life can go on. I have room for the things I am passionate about, I can fill out today with joy and laughter as God writes the story of our family. I have nothing to fear. I believe God has spoken motherhood over my life, parenthood over our marriage, and I do not need to fret or panic or 'if.' I can rest in the peace that God holds the 'how' and the 'when.' His plans are beautiful and perfect. And so is my life.

In the midst of the tears and the loss, there is life and love and lots of laughter. There are friends and family, possibility and passions and purpose. I have that today, in the moment. I have new life, everyday, because of what Jesus did on the cross. I just have to chose to step into it.

I am under no illusion that fear has totally left the building, or that I will not have wobbly days in the future. But I do feel as though a weight lifted from my shoulders yesterday. Now I get to step out in the freedom of this new life every day. And for the next 50 days (at least) Living Simply, to save to Give Generously!

He is Risen, He is Risen indeed.

I hope you all had a very special and happy Easter, and that you too know the blessing and hope that Jesus brings.

A snap of us enjoying lunch - would you believe we tried this shot a dozen times, and this was the best of the bunch. Seems you can't put a plate of food in front of my hubby without him eating...and we all know how eating shots turn out...well, they turn out like this, and this...!! Ha ha

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Daddy? Is it true?!"

There is a Disney commercial on TV here that has home video recording of children's responses when their parents surprise them that they are going to visit a Disney Park. It has been an emotional week for me and as a cry-er on the most stable of days these commercials have been torture! But one little girl gets me every time. She looks up at her Dad and asks him with joyful and hopeful anticipation, "Daddy, is it true?" (I can't find the commercial to post it, but I will keep looking because it is precious)

After we had made the decision to start our family, I had complete faith that when it came time each month we would be pregnant. And for months this was indeed our experience. Even when the pregnancies ended early in miscarriage, every time we tried we could get pregnant. This felt like proof God was with us. The miracle that a baby was beginning to grow was a miracle, God was present in our life, and even in my body. With each miscarriage while we were sad and our heart's hurt but we trusted that God was with us.

Now with each month that passes with no pregnancy I feel distant from God. As each negative test gets thrown away with the trash I feel more numb. I have forgotten what it feels like to be pregnant. I have forgotten the hope that comes with the positive test. Now instead I have the expectation that we are not going to get pregnant. I look to the future and see IVF. I see empty, sad, confused years ahead. I don't know what happened. I have lost focus. I feel like a bystander in my own life.

I am trying to be present, and that can work for short periods of time. But then the thoughts return and the emptiness takes hold.

I cannot think beyond having a child. I have become that woman. The one I always felt sorry for, who had no other ambition in her life, who could not appreciate what she had because she wasn't a mother. But now I know that when you want something so badly it can consume you. It bleeds into every other aspect of life and it refuses to be silent. I am a mother, I just do not have a child yet. Something is missing.

Yet, I also have so much. It's a tough balance, and recently I have not been doing a good job at finding it. A really bad job. I know hormones change the way we view the world, and I cannot deny they play a part, but I do not believe they are totally to blame! I still have to fight for truth to be circulating in my brain instead of fear. Telling myself "I can". I think I needed to hit bottom this week to jolt me back to restoring some balance.

I want to be content, I want my hands to be open and ready for God's plan to come to fruition but I have forgotten what it is like to experience God's hand in my life in a way that makes me look to him and gasp, "Daddy, is it true?"
Sometimes it will he harder to do, some days will be hard and disappointing. We will be confused. But God IS good, all the time.

My prayer today, on this Good Friday is to again die to my own plans. To let go of the limits I put on God and once again expect and anticipate his goodness in my life; miracles beyond what I can imagine. Easter is a season in which we are reminded of God's perfect plans, His powerful love for us, His beautiful Sovereignty and the life he gives.

What a beautiful day. Let us not forget all Jesus did to give us abundant life. Thanks you Lord. Reveal yourself to us all anew.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's for Dinner Wednesday - Lentil Stuffed Zucchini

When I was planning a menu this week and wanting a lentil recipe, I was trying to move away from the soup recipes I am naturally drawn to (I am a soup fiend). I try to use lentils in pace of ground beef when I can, it's cheaper and healthier and texture-wise can be a pretty good substitute.

One of Jeremy's favorite foods is stuffed peppers so I have been on the search for a good recipe but have yet to actually prepare them dinner. However, I got some beautiful zucchini in my produce box this week and began to wonder if anyone had ever thought to stuff those?! After a page of Google search results I concluded this was not a new idea and felt more confident to try it out!

There were a few recipes using ground beef and a few that even used lentils so I grabbed ideas from here and there and came up with this.

Recipe (3-6 servings depending on how hungry you are!)

1/3 C brown lentils
1/2 C red wine
1/2 C water
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 rib of Celery, finely chopped
1/2 C Onion, finely chopped
1/2 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf

3 medium zucchini (or enough for those you are cooking for - you can freeze the extra filling for a quick dinner option in the future)

1/4 C tomato paste
1/4 C finely chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/4 tsp dried Tarragon
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus a little bit more for topping
Salt to taste
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C breadcrumbs OR for the Gluten-freers 1/4 C crushed Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes

Combine the lentils, wine, water, carrot, celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and bay leaf in a large saucepan. Cover and simmer over medium-high heat until the lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Don't let the mixture get too dry!

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly oil an 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; add the zucchini and cook for 15 minutes, until just tender. Drain and cool slightly.

Trim the ends and slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out about half of the inside of the zucchini, leaving a 1/4 inch thick shell. Arrange the zucchini shells in the prepared pan and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

When the lentils are cooked, remove the bay leaf. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the Parmesan and bread crumbs.

Stir together the Parmesan, bread crumbs, and a dash of pepper in a small bowl.

Spread about 2 tablespoons of the lentil mixture into each zucchini half. Sprinkle with the Parmesan mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the zucchini are completely tender and the cheese is melted.

Note* This was a HIT for dinner tonight! I might use a little less tomato paste next time and a little more cheese on top, mozzarella would work well in the topping. The crushed Rice krispies worked well as a substitute for breadcrumbs in the gluten free option I made. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Feeling a bit fragile this week as we journey through another month without a positive pregnancy test, surrounded by celebrations of other peoples impending little ones. I am not sure it will ever be easy to hear the news of someone elses pregnancy without tears. Please know it is not sorrow for you news-bearers, or evidence that we don't want to share in your celebration, but simply that your joy touches a part of us so wounded and sensitive that your news cuts deep.

My tears are impossible to hold back as my heart remembers it's own losses, and feels again the pain of being childless and the struggle we walk every day. Most of the time though the thoughts are always present, the reality can be kept from the forefront with activity and studying, cooking, creating and friendship. However, a pregnancy announcement forces the rest of life to the sidelines, and the hole in my heart feels exposed, and in that moment nothing could hurt more.

As I type the tears are falling, I guess recalling said announcements also exposes the fears and hurt too?!

Their is a true grief involved as we process your news. We love you, and we know they joy for your family will come soon enough, but in the moment we are painfully reminded of what we do not have, and over come with fear and grief as we mourn the loss of simplicity in our journey to parenthood.

I struggle to have acceptable or appropriate responses, but have learned instead that being real is better. Most friends tell us in the most sensitive of ways. Knowing our story and wanting to honor our struggle and as they do, I feel free to honor them with a real response, even if that is tears.

I stopped trying to be strong and put on a front about this a long time ago. Being transparent has allowed us to journey honestly with others. Our tears as well as our laughter are more genuinely understood, and we can be more fully known. As we put ourselves out there in this way we have been met with the same transparency and honesty which gives our community and relationships depth and firm foundation.

I look forward to the celebrations we will share in the future, both our own and others. But equally I anticipate meeting others in their pain and grief in the same way we have been met and lifted up.

It's a (almost) sunny day in Seattle and my garden is calling, I am hoping it will give me some time to reflect and regroup. Keeping my hands busy is always a good thing on days when every fiber of my body wants to curl up under the covers and hide away from the world.

I am so tired of feeling so sad. I am not sure how to be in life both without a child and without a broken heart. I believe there is a story being written, but its hard to embrace the passions I have and the person I believe I am called to be when there seems to be something so huge missing. I have lost purpose and struggle to be motivated in everything that used to bring real joy.

I am at an impasse. Frozen. Hoping the thaw comes soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Heading towards 20,000!

When I started this blog, it was a space to document the journey of our marriage and to share with friends and family far and near 'the days of our lives.' Over time it has become more of a life line for me. A space to share thoughts and to process pain and search for hope. I never knew I would connect with so many wonderful people in this way and I never imagined it would become such an important part of our life and family.

I am not concerned with the number of blog hits I get but over time more and more people have begun to follow the sight and walk alongside us in the highs and the lows of life I have seen the ticker moving up too. And this morning when I looked I could not believe that it was approaching 20,000 hits! Wow. That's insane!

I feel so honored to live the life I have, and to have so many people share in it just makes it better.

I wonder what kind of stories I will be sharing at 30,000 or 50,000? I wonder what our lives will look like, and who we will be at those moments in time. I wonder where we will have known victory and where we will still struggle. Have our hearts known their deepest sorrow? Unlikely. Will we trace the lines from present day to the future and see God's hand clearly, or will we strain to find purpose in our journey?

I look forward to being able to answer these questions and living my life in the months and years ahead. I hope you will still be on the journey with us, and giving us the chance to share in your journey too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Counting the Cost

I feel as if I need to do a little driving update after the "tapping" mentioned in the last post! I have been driving a lot over the last few days and am feeling much more comfortable with the whole thing. I can actually see myself getting a license which for all my willingness to get behind the wheel as a learner I never before truly saw that happening!

My permit runs out in June, and although I feel far from ready to test, I wonder if I might be ready by then to take it...humm, except for being gone for a week in May I think I can fit in quite a few more lessons! I am not even sure I could book a test that soon - I hear they are quite the hot commodity with the DMV closures that have happened recently.

I have been really loving my new school classes, even the economics - who knew?! I am enjoying how applicable some of the basic principles are to my life. We have been learning the concept of Opportunity Cost, when doing one thing means you cannot do another. Last weekend the message at church included discussing how when we are called to turn towards God it means we have to run away from something else, sin. We cannot be focused don two things at once.

Now, I love to play the multitasking woman card but in all honesty when I do two things at once, it is rare I am fully present in each activity. I may feel like I am getting more done, but I am fully enjoying or experiencing any of them?

This followed with me into the area of discipline in my life. I have such a hard time being a good student, and it is because I am so easily distracted by the television. I have a very long to do list of small projects around the house which I am adding to but not crossing off - Why? I am getting distracted by blogs and emails. This is truly an area I feel the Lord challenging my heart about. If I turned from the television and the things I let distract me and moved towards the other things in my life, namely Him, I believe I would feel more content with life, more satisfied and more like myself.

The distractions in life can numb us to reality. We can keep a distance from the people in our lives but feel connected because people comment on our Facebook status updates.

I love Facebook, and I enjoy television but I know how easily my eyes turn fully from God and following His leading in my life, and focus on the distractions in a way that prevents me from being fully who I was created to be. This is not how I want to live, and I feel as though I am coming back to this issue time after time, month after month. I know God calling me to focus only on Him. And I know that in the grief and uncertainty of the past year, I have allowed myself to take my eyes off Him, and to look for comfort elsewhere. I have wanted to allow His perfect peace to rule my heart, but it has been a losing battle, and in the hopelessness and ambivalence what has settled, the TV has felt like a better companion. Or at least an easier one.

In God's story, I am worth so much but it is a hard journey. My life has meaning and purpose, but sometimes I just want it to be easy, and I just want things to happen in the way I plan. I can lose hours at a time watching the TV or reading on the internet. I can get through a day without my feelings touching the sides.

I realize again that God is calling me out of just coping with life. Calling me out into something new, calling me to Him. To sit with Him when I am feeling sad, when I am confused. God is asking me to focus on Him fully and let Him be my comforter.

I know that coming out of the numbness may be painful, but its the way I heal. It is the way I begin to hope again, because when you are numb its not just the bad feelings that you can't feel, it's the good ones too - and I am in the market for some good feelings!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's for Dinner Wednesday - Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

I have loved looking at lentil recipes - almost as much as I have enjoyed eating the results! They are so versitile but with the rain and cold still refusing to leave Seattle it seemed like a good night to go back to a classic, split pea soup. Now I am not sure if a split pea is technically a lentil, but in my opinion, if it looks like a lentil, and cooks like a lentil then it's a lentil. or a duck? What's that phrase? Anyway, you get the idea. So, Split Pea Soup.

I know that often there is a ham bone or even chucks of ham put into split pea soup but I am not really a fan of adding meat where it is not necessary - it's the decade of vegetarianism in me still speaking even after we broke up!

So this is a vegetarian version of the soup. I found the recipe on, and it had a ton of rave reviews and an almost 5-star rating so I thought I would try it out.
When I search recipes on the major food websites I always read through reviews and look at ratings. They can be so helpful in making sure you do not end up wasting perfectly good ingredients on a so so recipe. Sometimes there are some great tips for making the recipe successfully in the reviews, as well as additional ideas for variations on the original recipe. I will still take a chance on a recipe with only a few reviews if I am in a gambling frame of mind!

Here is the recipe


* 3 cups dried split peas
* 7 cups water or vegetable stock or a combination (may need slightly more)
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon dry mustard
* 2 cups onions, minced
* 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
* 3 stalks celery, minced
* 2 medium carrots, sliced
* 1 potato, diced
* fresh ground black pepper
* 1 -4 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, to taste (or red wine vinegar)


First, place the first 5 ingredients into a large pot or dutch oven.

Bring to a boil and then simmer partially covered for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to stop the peas sticking on the bottom of the pot.

While the pot in simmering, saute the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and potato. And when the pea mixture is done, add them to the pot.

Partially cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally - you may need to add more liquid.

Take pan off the heat and season with pepper and vinegar.


Simple and Delicious! And perfect on a spring evening here in the Pacific North West! If Gluten doesn't hate you, this soup can be enjoyed with a crusty loaf of french bread.

Ok, so imagine a picture right here*
I was going to snap a shot and put it here, but even the best tasting split pea soup (and I believe this may be it) looks kinda gross and this recipe is no different. If your soup is baby poop green and lumpy, you made it right. See I told you you didn't want a picture.

Hope you didn't lose your appetite!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Driving Miss Daisy

Phew! I am so happy to be home and on the couch. Alive and well. My heart is beating a little faster than usual but that is because I just got home from a 2 hour long driving lesson with my hubby.

We are borrowing my in-laws car for a little while because it is an automatic and we know my limitations as a late-to-driving learner! In the UK we would have some 'L' plates on the car to tell other drivers to beware, but for some reason they have nothing like that here...maybe I will make my own. I probably should.

I love that my husband believes in me, but I think my action today reminded him I am still very new at this whole thing! The very almost "tapping" of a car in a parking lot when I hit the accelerator instead of the brake - I am not sure if that was before or after I forgot I was in drive and not reverse. Yikes! Don't worry, we checked just in case and the other car was more than fine. And I was actually going very slowly when the confusion occurred but it felt to me like I was going 150 mph.

Apart from that the driving was pretty uneventful. I managed to stay in my lane most of the time, and keep at the speed limit, I even had to make a turn across traffic and merge lanes which I did without too much screaming. I am terrified most of the time but I like the feeling I am getting more used to being behind the wheel. I am far from being confident to go out alone without the reassuring voice and instruction of my loyal instructor but I hope that will come in time.

We have the car for about another week and we will be going out every day - and from the look of the weather I will get some driving in the rain practice in too!

I am still very fearful when I am driving, my shoulders tense up and I hold my breath a lot! I am going to cash in a promised shoulder rub in a minute, and I am praying that the fear will dissipate as I become more and more at ease in the driving seat.

I can't wait to feel natural behind the steering wheel, I guess it might take some time, but I hope and pray it doesn't take too long. I just need to keep going forward before I lose my nerve. There is no turning back now - literally because I haven't mastered U-turns!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's For Dinner Wednesday - Spicy Ethopian Red Lentil Stew

I love lentils, so April will be a month of Lentil recipes! They are so versatile to cook with not to mention they are really good for you and inexpensive, especially if you buy them in bulk like we do. I am always on the look out for good lentil recipes and this was a delicious find from the May edition of Cooking Light magazine last year. I have mentioned it before on this blog, but it is good enough for a re-visit and considering it made our menu this week it seemed like the perfect time.

It is easy to prepare, just a little chopping and then you pretty much throw it in the pot and let it go. It might give your house have a spicy aroma for a day or so, it's not a bad smell but I wanted to lay all the 'post-dinner aroma' cards on the table!

The recipe calls for Berbere Spice which I could not find in the stores here, but my friend Jo sent me this recipe to make your own.

Berbere Spice
1 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon

This mix is good but it is really spicy so when I use the mix I cut down to 1/2 tbsp. I would recommend putting in a small amount and then upping the spice to your taste.

Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew
(serves 4)

2 tsp canola oil
2 C chopped red onion
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tbsp Berbere spice (or less to taste)
3 C organic vegetable broth
1 C dried red lentils
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 C hot cooked rice, they suggest basmati rice but I like it with brown.


Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add ginger and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in Tomato paste and Berbere spice; cook 1 minute, stirring to combine. Gradually add broth, stirring with a whisk until blended. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.

Rinse lentils under cold water; drain. Add lentils to broth mixture; simmer, partially covered for 35 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt.

Serve over rice, and sprinkle on cilantro.

I served it with a green salad, but it is great on it's own. The stew freezes well so you can make it ahead and then just defrost it and cook some fresh rice and top with fresh cilantro.


Original source: Cooking Light, May 2010

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Being Watered

Over the past year, through our infertility journey my faith has been stretched more than ever before but I believe that I am being molded and shaped with every tear into more of God's design. In my early 20's I weathered the storm of severe anxiety and was forced to re-evaluate my life, my goals and my identity. It was so hard but I was able to endure and emerge transformed by God's grace and the love of my family and community. That had the potential to be such a dark season of my life, but from it I began my journey to YWAM, to Seattle, to discipleship, to Jeremy, to who person I am today. I can be nothing but thankful for that season of life, even though it was so scary and painful in the moment.

I am hopeful that this season of heartache is another time I will look back on as the birth of a new direction, a new purpose. In the midst of my anxiety I turned to God because I had no where else to turn. I read my Bible more than ever, I prayed more than ever and I heard the Lord more frequently than ever before. I needed that concentrated time with Him to build the intimacy I needed to trust when he told me to get on a plane and fly across the world alone for 6 months. And I had no fear about that decision, and no fear surrounding leaving, just peace. His peace.

I long for that closeness again. I have been more consistent in my quiet times this year so far than in a long time. I am making an intentional effort to pray, and journal prayers so I can see where God is working in my life and the lives of others. I have to make time with Him a priority, and I can trust that as I meet him I will be refreshed and renewed. Fruit will come. It is coming already in so many ways.

Below is a verse from the passage in my devotional this morning and I just appreciated the confirmation that as we plant ourselves in God he will grow us. We will have different seasons, a springtime of budding, a summer of blooming and then a fall of loss and a winter of preparation. Just as the plants need the seasons to be all they can be, so do I. Just as the rains are falling in Seattle this spring watering the plants and feeding them, getting them ready to blossom so I need to let His word water me; flood my spirit as I feel so dry.

"Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary." Ez 47:12

Through all the seasons I must draw my sustenance from Him; from His word, from His teaching, from his hope and peace and joy. When life is uncertain, He is constant.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I love spring time. I love the hope it offers. The newness of everything. The flowers bringing splashes of colour to the world. I also love spring cleaning, weird? Perhaps but I do! Making the house fell fresh, a time to clean out closets and get rid of junk. I love how the house feels after the spring clean. And everywhere smells so fresh when you can clean and keep the doors and windows open for a while to air everything out. Wonderful.

Over the past year or so I have been very aware of the chemicals that are in so many cleaning products and wanting to eliminate as many of them as possible from our environment.

I believe this change is a good health decision for us but I also feel a personal conviction that this is a way to put my faith into action. We are called to care for the earth and when we clean with products that are full of harmful things, we may get a shiny toilet bowl but at what expense as we contribute to polluting our air and possibly our water?

I have found a ton of 'recipes' online for cleaning solutions, lots using lemon, vinegar, and baking soda. I need to get some empty spray bottles to start this new healthy phase of cleaning. But I will be pairing those with some 'green' cleaners that I have found.

We use a natural toilet bowl cleaner, made by Seventh Generation and non-toxic wood floor cleaner by Method. This makes me feel better when I am inhaling it as I clean. The floor cleaner smells so wonderful, it's almond scented, so good. I admit, I am not totally green just yet, but I am hoping to be very soon. I look forward to finding the natural, inexpensive cleaning solutions that can keep our house clean and our bodies and our planet healthy.

I have also found some biodegradable/recyclable sponges for doing dishes, and use washable rags and clothes to clean. This feels like a very small change to reduce waste rather than the rolls and rolls of paper towels and the cleaning wipes I was going through. I just throw them in with the hot wash each week and voila, clean for the next time.

Does you have good recipes that you use to clean your home in a natural way? I am looking for tips that get the job done! Are you making changes in your home to go green?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring in my step!

It's spring time, and in Seattle it has been raining a lot. I love the smell of spring rain, it's so fresh, and the world just looks refreshed. The grass smells sweet as the rains fall, and the budding blooms quiver under the weight of the rain.

On Friday evening my lovely friend Anjie and I decided to treat ourselves to a mani-pedi (after we had made these fun plans I then had to re-jig our budget to find the cashola to pay for it, for some reason there was not a mani-pedi envelope of money in our original one!)

Anyway, in appreciation of the colours of spring, this is what my toes look like - It makes me smile to see them looking so happy!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Getting a little crafty

It has been a while since I have had a fun craft project to work on. We have been a little distracted with more large scale re-decorating as we have tried to finish the fireplace remodel and re paint our TV room and kitchen. It is almost done. so close I can taste it, but there are some final things to sand and finish so I will do an unveiling as soon as it's completed!

As you know we have started taking the Financial Peace University class at our church. It has been great, and we are learning a lot but and now we have a budget. Perhaps that should read, but now we have a budget, because now I am so aware of each penny that it is much harder to just go and buy things because they look pretty.

My parents are coming to visit next month and I want our guest room to be welcoming. We did a big push to get walls painted and such like before they visited last autumn but since then it has had little attention. I had grand plans for all that I wanted to do in there but so far they have not come to pass.

We chose a lemon yellow for the walls and the room looks fresh and clean. I have accented with black and white bedding which I love! I have a dresser that I want to paint and a chair that was last summers project that has now been sitting half finished in our garage since the sun went away! They will be the basic components of the space, but I still needed some things for the walls.

My first idea was to go and find something at Target that would make the walls a bit more friendly, but with the budget very much in the forefront of my mind, I fist took a look in my craft closet to see if there was anything I could make work for free!

I came across these mirrors that I had bought from Ikea many moons ago. I used to have them in my room when I lived in my old house, but they have not known any love since we moved in here. I suddenly remembered the really cool wrapping paper I had that is grey and black and would totally be a match for the colours in the room, and I decided to do a little decoupage. I had some Mod Podge, so I didn't have to purchase anything for this project. It was pretty convicting that I am too quick to buy something new and much, much too slow to see if I have something that would work. Lesson learned, I hope.

So tools gathered, I got to work.
The mirror started off like this,

A little while later it looked like this,

And later still it looked like this, Ta- Daa!!

Tomorrow I am going on a hunt for some black ribbon to hang them up, I can just picture them on the wall. And with this project under my belt I am inspired to finish the others!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Facing my Fears - bikini shopping

So this week was a reminder that it is not fun to swimsuit shop when a) you are not loving your body right now, and b) you are trying them when your skin is so white from the long dreary winter.

We decided to bite the bullet when an opportunity came around for us to book a vacation in Hawaii this spring. We are going with some friends and I am so excited for waking up to the lapping of the waves on the shore, laying by the pool ALL DAY, romantic walks on the sand, adventures to find hidden waterfalls. Even typing that I got distracted and started day dreaming!

But as we booked the tickets a dark cloud came into view...I have to buy a swim suit. Yuck.

I knew that the trying on and mirrors would be a painful experience because of the few extra pounds that are hanging around in places they shouldn't, and the pale canvas they are on! I have one two piece swimsuit right now, but it's a few years old, looking a bit sad and not the best fit so I knew if I was going to feel good about myself in Hawaii I needed to get a new swim suit.

In recent years, I have lost all patience for shopping. The trying on, the 'not available in my size', the 'just can't find exactly what I am wanting' all of it means I needed to change the way I shop. Plus, since I initiated us attending the Financial Peace University I now have a budget I have to stick to, so a little at home prep can make the whole shopping experience better in every way.

I looked at a few different websites to get a feel for styles and after a while stumbled across a two piece at JC Penny that I really liked the look of. I have to buy separates because my top and bottom halves are very different sizes, and this looked like it might be flattering - of course it looks great on the size 0, very tanned model who is displaying it online!

After my browsing, I went into the store and tried it on and would you believe it but it actually looked ok. So this is where the budget conscious me gets really excited. I have such a hard time paying $30 a piece for a two-piece bikini, even when that is the sale price. It's such a small amount of material, even in the most conservative of swim suits.

I headed home, empty handed but with a plan.

I went back online, and found an online coupon for 15% off and then ordered the pieces to be shipped to the store. I get a new bikini - not one that has been tried on by who knows who, it's free to get it shipped to the store, and it cost 15% less than it would otherwise. (Winning!)

Now I just have to wait to go and pick it up, and hope i still like it as much when I get it home.

The pain of bathing suit shopping is over at least for another year, and I came out of it without too many scars! And I will be honest, I suppose having to buy little jersey cover ups, cute dresses and T-shirts and shorts is not so bad when you know a trip to the sunshine in Hawaii is on the cards in the not too distant future!

Ok, all this bikini talk is motivating me to go and work out...even if the heavy rain I hear pounding on my roof makes me feel like staying put on the couch with a blanket and a good book.

Sweat pants on - we have lift off!

Ok - here is the link to a pic, seriously flatters the larger derriere!


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