Open

For the past year, Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama has hosted Five Minute Fridays.  She gives a one-word prompt and those who link up are to write about that prompt for five minutes with “no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking”.  I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the idea, but I always loved reading other’s linked-up posts.  So today, on the last Friday of 2011, I decided to jump in.  That, in and of itself, is kind of a big deal because my perfectionist nature would want to wait to start with the first Friday of the year.  But I’m working on getting rid of unnecessary perfectionism…thus starting now.  I have no idea if it’s something that I’ll be able to do every Friday, but it’ll be fun to join when I can.  And with no more further ado…here goes five minutes.

Five Minute Friday: Open

GO

It’s funny how God works things. The week that I finally decide to join Five Minute Friday, the prompt coincides directly with something I’ve been musing about. My openness in my writing.

I like to think of myself as a pretty open person. Honesty is huge to me. Yet, in reading some of my blog posts from the past year, I realize that often doesn’t carry over into my blogging. Many of my posts are very informative and helpful, but they’re not very open. They don’t really reveal my heart and what I’m thinking about and dealing with. And when I think about bloggers and posts that I am most encouraged by, they’re the ones that think out loud. They’re not focused on communicating something helpful. They’re just being open and sharing where their heart is at. And I want to be that too.

So, while I hesitate to make any resolution or plan for the next year for my blog, in general I want to strive toward more openness in my writing and posting. Yes, there will still be informative posts and the like, but I want to really start to open my heart and share in the same way that I am encouraged by when others do.

STOP

Jesus’ mama

I’ve been thinking about Mary a lot in the last several weeks.  She has always been one of my heroines.  Back when I was very single and very much wanting to get married, yet having no prospects on the horizon, Mary’s submission to the Lord’s will was such an example to me.  Three short years later, now that I’m married and have two babies, my respect for her continues to deepen.

While Mary was chosen by God to bear the Messiah, she was no less human than I am.  And in all that humanity, she was a mama.  Jesus was her baby.  I know that for me, as a mama, it’s so hard for me to think of my babies going through any type of pain.  Yet Mary knew, even before Jesus was born, that He was the Savior.  And though she didn’t know the details, I’m sure she realized that being a Savior would bring much pain.  And such thoughts would only be confirmed by Simeon when he told her that “a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35).  And this when her little One was just weeks old.

And the amazing thing to me is that, in all of this, “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  If I’m being totally honest with myself, I don’t know if I would do the same.  To look my precious tiny baby, to nurse this helpless little one, knowing that great pain will come to him…I don’t know if I could just accept it.  And yet, in the end, I must.  Jars of Clay captures the conflicting emotions so well in their song “Bethlehem Town”:

Oh, Mary, Joseph, rest your eyes
Try not to think of the ending
World full of empty, He will die
But tonight He is still just a child…

Have you cursed at the wind
Have you cried to the heavens
Have you fought with this mercy you don’t understand
When the wise men kneel down
To kiss the hand of this king they found in Bethlehem town

Will you hold back the years a while
Will you dream that this man could always be a child
And never carry all the weight
Of the dirt and the distance and the company we keep…

And did the stars shine much brighter that night
You gave birth to the death that would bring us to life
And did the mystery keep you awake
Was the sound of His little heart too much to take

I don’t know what the point of all this rambling is…it’s just that in the past weeks, I’ve been struck anew by the humanity of the Incarnation, from a mother’s viewpoint.  Giving birth is such an amazing experience, and I sometimes forget that’s what Mary did…she birthed Jesus.  That incredible moment right after the baby is born, when you bring them onto your chest and have your first glimpse of this little one that has kicked and squirmed inside you for the past nine months.  Mary had that…with Jesus.  She nursed the Savior of the world.  He was her baby Boy. And she was His mama.

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

(Andrew Peterson; “Labor of Love”)

Of broken routers and yummy pasta

Wouldn’t you know, as soon as things slow down and I have enough time to blog again, our router breaks and we don’t have regular internet anymore!  I had a couple different posts that I was planning on writing and posting this past week, but for now we can only get internet by going up to my in-law’s house or to a local coffee shop…neither of which happen often for me.  But oh well…hopefully the new router will come soon and in the meanwhile, I’ve had more reading time than I usually do.

But as a quick post, I thought I would share one of our favourite pasta recipes.  I made this the other night and Aaron mentioned that it should definitely be included in the recipes on my blog as it is very good and something I make pretty regularly.  I can’t remember where online I found the original recipe — it was awhile ago.  I like to keep a recipes folder going in my bookmarks where I put anything that looks remotely yummy (though Pinterest is messing up my system now!) and then transfer those to a Word document when it gets pretty full.  Then I format them all and try to fit as many as I can on as few pages as I can…which are then printed out and add to my big black binder recipe book.  So, the original recipe for this was from one of those, thus rendering it untraceable.  But I think that I’ve modified it enough from the original to make it my own.  At any rate, make it soon and enjoy!

Louisiana Chicken Pasta

Cook one pound of pasta (I usually use fusilli) and set aside. While pasta is cooking, melt a stick of butter in a large saucepan. To it, add several small yellow onions and one head of garlic, roughly chopped and saute for several minutes. Add some chopped mushrooms and some chopped bell peppers (we often use the jarred Fire-Roasted Red and Yellow Peppers from Trader Joe’s since they’re cheaper and you can’t really notice the taste difference) and saute until all vegetables are soft and starting to brown. Add a couple handfuls of flour to make a roux, and let cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally until flour starts to lightly brown. Pour in about two-ish cups of strong chicken broth  and stir well to avoid clumps. Let thicken and add enough whole milk to reach the consistency you want. Season with salt, dried basil, crushed red pepper flakes and some kind of smoked seasoning (I used to use smoked paprika, but then I found Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning blend which is perfect for this!  If you use smoked salt to add smokiness, you probably would want to make a weaker chicken broth so it’s not too salty). Let simmer for several minutes to let the flavours meld. Finely grate about a cup of Asiago cheese and toss with some flour. Add by the handful, stirring well to prevent clumps. Once everything is well-incorporated and smooth, remove from heat. Add some sliced grilled chicken and pour over your pasta.

Several weeks’ worth of ramblings

Wouldn’t you know…the Lord decides to convict me of my perfectionism in having to do weekly gift posts and then decides to further the lesson by making the next several weeks’ circumstances such that I don’t get any blogging done, much less recording gifts throughout the week.   But you know the exciting part?  I must be (slowly) learning, because the fact that I totally abandoned my blog and gift notebook for several weeks isn’t even a big deal anymore.  Life happened and I was there in the life I’ve been given instead of frantically trying to keep up with some self-imposed idea that I must record everything here or in my notebook.  And despite wanting to try and fill my gift journal and get to two thousand by the end of the year, realizing that probably won’t happen now isn’t a huge deal either, even though I stopped at some random number like 1865 (instead of nice round 1800 or 1900).  So yeah, it’s encouraging to see that these lessons that I seem to have to learn over and over and over again are making at least a little bit of headway.

Speaking of lessons, another one that has come up numerous times in the past weeks has been that of trusting the Lord with the future.  Along with having company and taking trips and battling nasty colds, during these past weeks, we’ve been seriously considering moving sometime in the near future.  But due to certain circumstances, how we think that will happen keeps changing again and again and again.  A little bit of an emotional roller coaster, but it’s been very good for me to keep learning to let go of my plans, or rather what I think God’s plans are, and just g0 along with the wild ride.  And I also have a tendency to start daydreaming and planning things (in quite a lot of detail!) before they are solidified, and now I’m learning not to let myself do that too much as I get too emotionally involved in something that isn’t even real yet (does that even make sense?!).

I was very encouraged the other day when reading a blog post of another mama of littles.  In it, she mentions a quote from my beloved Anne of Ingleside that I had forgotten, but needed to be reminded of.  Anne, now the mother of six children, is asked if she has given writing up.  And her reply, thinking of her children, is “Not altogether…but I’m writing living epistles now”.  I need to be reminded of that often…especially when the daily “writing” of my littles hardly seems to produce more than a couple crooked letters.  I need to remember the big picture and that my every-day mothering will have long-term results.  And so I’m re-reading Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic…such an encouraging book!

Well, speaking of books, today I received an early Christmas present of an Amazon gift card and so I think I’m going to do some online book browsing now.  I’m guessing I’ll find something on my wishlists

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