Adding and Subtracting

Even now, Labor Day weekend reminds me of the first day of school, and still feels like the beginning of a new year. This year finds me adding and subtracting once again.

I’m not sure why I felt blindsided by this past year. I shouldn’t have been surprised when family health emergencies, a graduate school workload, and running multiple businesses took a mental and physical toll. For months, my approach was to just try harder. But wise counsel from my dear husband John helped me to untangle my thoughts and begin to listen to my own inner wisdom.

It starts in the garden, or a walk with our dog. A patch of earth, a solitary flower, or a ripening apple will catch my eye.

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My mom taught me to silently thank the flowers when I see them. I recall what my teacher and mentor, herbalist Susun Weed said: “Every breath is a giveaway dance between you and the plants.”

Here’s what else I’ve learned:

Not everything I like to do has to turn into a business. So I am closing my online handcraft shop and returning to what I love to do most — make things by hand for my home, my family and friends, and myself. Now it’s fun again!

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I can redirect the energy that I had spread among three businesses into my independent recruiting business — a new and real blessing! I can feel my blood pressure decreasing already.

I am a member of the body of Christ, who reminds me to rest in Him. I’ve returned to my home church here in Boise, where I was baptized in 2015. After many months away from church, I began to feel a tug and went to Maundy Thursday service this year. Haven’t looked back.

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I don’t have to force every moment into “something productive,” as if nothing else is enough. And isn’t that a thing that manages to nag at all of us — “am I enough?”

I’m returning to me, beginning to believe that just maybe, I am enough.

I pray the same for you — because you are enough.

 

 

 

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Looking For Things

“You see, I like to look for things” — one of my favorite lines by poet Rainer Maria Rilke. I’m learning to look with renewed eyes, thanks to a series of journal prompts I am reading. Today’s prompt tells us to look for feathers, as a sign of wisdom.

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Since reading The Iliad in college, I’ve loved the stories of the goddess Minerva / Athena, protector of many things that are dear to me: justice, poetry, crafts, weaving, and owls. Feathers. Things that I had forgotten until recent days.

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So our dog Paavo and I were on our usual morning walk in the grove near my church. Of course, I smiled a little as I found a feather…

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but then I found another…

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and another…

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this one is my favorite…

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…and then one more on our way home…

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So today, I am grateful for this sprinkling of reminders to look, see, and value my wisdom.

What have you looked for today?

I highly recommend this series of journal prompts, for exploring inner wisdom. Be well and be blessed!

 

Recipe: French Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Soup

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Have you tried French green lentils?

 

Two weeks ago, a family health crisis forced us to quickly learn about the ulcer-friendly or “bland” diet. My husband learned that he had a bleeding ulcer, and that onions, garlic and spicy foods were out of the question for the time being. As a family who loves to cook, we were determined to find flavorful alternatives to these cooking staples. Of course, if you have an ulcer or other digestive condition, ask your doctor about the foods that are best for you.

Soups are a favorite meal at our house, and I’d been meaning to try French green lentils. These small, dark gray-green lentils have a lovely sweet flavor and creamy texture. The caramelized roasted vegetables, along with some mild cooking herbs, add a rich flavor that helped us forget about the term “bland diet.”

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Roasted, slightly caramelized vegetables replace onions and garlic.

 

My husband likes to add zucchini and other vegetables to roasting meats, so I decided to use that idea for this soup.  My mom and I had fun cooking this soup and refining the recipe. No garlic, no onions, and lots of healing thoughts went into this soup. Here’s the recipe:


Ingredients

1 cup French green lentils

4-inch strip of dried kombu

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried ground thyme

Sea salt to taste

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1-1/2 cups diced potato

2 zucchini, sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Dried oregano

Directions

1. Sort and rinse lentils. Place lentils and kombu in a medium bowl and soak for 4 hours (Available in health food stores, kombu is a sea vegetable that helps make beans and lentils more digestible) .

2. Just before the lentils have finished soaking, preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, toss the carrots, potatoes and zucchini in oil. Sprinkle with dried oregano and sea salt, then toss some more. Place the vegetables in the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through cooking time. Vegetables will be ready when they are tender and slightly caramelized.

3. Drain and place the lentils and kombu in a large soup pot. Add enough water to cover the lentils and add bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Remove from heat and set aside until the vegetables are finished roasting.

4. Add roasted vegetables to the pot of lentils and stir to combine. Sample the broth and add more water, salt and additional thyme if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook the soup for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Bland diet? What bland diet? You’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor, even without the tried and true onion and garlic base. Hope you’ll give this soup a try!

Natural Living Beauty

Some of my husband’s photos have been published on this wonderful site called Broken Light. Hope you’ll pay a visit!

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Please welcome first-time contributor John G. Evans, a man who has been suffering since 1972 from what is now known to be a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from a trauma faced during military service time. He has discovered that photography and poetry have allowed him a second chance at life, and have released him of his depressive states and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He recently relocated to Boise, Idaho, to photograph the mountain ranges, rivers, canals, nature, wildlife, landscapes and weather.

About these photos: “This photo series was taken in San Antonio, Texas, at the zoo early in the morning during the peak of the “golden hours” between 7:00 am – 9:00 am. The mood was quite beautiful and serene that one has the potential of losing yourself within the crisp cool morning air of twilight and the natural living beauty that surrounds you within this natural & metaphorical landscape of exotic birds &…

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Love in Action

Insight into the words of Thomas Paine and more!

Vehemence!

“An army of principles may penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.” Such a powerful statement by Thomas Paine, very powerful! Should this power of the written word be taken out of context for political, social, or economic gain? Absolutely not! And those of who refrain from coming to embrace this power as a personal verbal inflection for a personal, selfish gain should truly have their motives and gains highly questioned.

Quite obviously, Paine’s motives for the “rights of man,” were to free two young countries from the tyrannies of their respective periods of time; thus being the French and the American Colonial Revolutions. As well, it should be clearly noted Paine died penniless and homeless, so there was no political, social, nor economical gain to be made. He simply spoke truth. And this was to no gain with the exceptions for these two countries to have the right to…

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Perception and Breathing New Life

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February has always been a month of contrasts for me. The magic of the first snowfall is long gone, and the once flourishing garden is a tangle of gray, dormant branches and stems. And that lingering fatigue from the latest flu strain is getting old. On the other hand, it’s time for seed catalogs, late winter pruning, and first glimpses of crocuses. I think of my Star Word of the year, “perception,” and how one scene can trigger contrasting emotions — depending on one’s perception.

Here in Boise, the temperature has been in the 60s for the past few days, so my husband John and I picked up the pruning shears and headed for the patio and garden. Later, my mom and I savored the sunlight in our front yard. I’ve seen enough winters to know that spring always returns, but I admit I am relieved when I see those first shoots emerge in late winter.

 

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

As we approach Lent and then Easter, I am keenly aware of God’s fierce and renewing love for His creation: a love that repeatedly breathes new life into our cloudy, icy mornings, and refuses to give up on any of us. It’s a love so fierce that it will lay down its life to give new life. A love that says “I forgive you” before it hears the words “I’m sorry.” A love that says “I love you where you are right now, because I can see past the dry, dead brambles and anticipate tender new growth.”

“Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.”
~Albert Laighton

I pray for sharpened perception as the Creator breathes new life into our dreams. What new perspective will He show us in a cherished but stale goal? What refreshed perception will we have of ourselves? What new beginnings will he create — as only He can create — out of what looks like ashes?

I hope that wherever you are, whatever your circumstances at this moment, that you sense the promise of renewal and rebirth in the coming seasons!

Taking Part in the #WomensLives Campaign!

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You may have been noticing a lot of social media posts from me with the hashtag #womenslives. I am pleased to be taking part in the #WomensLives media initiative by Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows media, the parent company of BlogHer. For years, I have enjoyed listening to The World and other programs produced by PRI, and I have found a great blogging community at BlogHer.

Beginning this month, the #womenslives campaign will highlight issues that affect women, including health, education, domestic violence and climate change. This initiative resonates with me in a personal way: about ten years ago, my mother and I lived in — and eventually worked at — a shelter for women and children. I found the closest friendships of my life at this shelter, and experienced the value of listening to women’s stories. I saw and experienced the economic, social and personal toll of poverty, inequality and domestic violence — but I also witnessed over and over again the strength and courage of women.

You can participate in this media initiative in several ways. You can share stories from PRI with the #womenslives hashtag on social media, for example. Why not write a blog post of your own and add your voice? It’s a wonderful opportunity to share your story in a powerful international media campaign. Bloggers who are participating in the campaign have added this badge to their blog:

#womenslives

 

Stay tuned for more posts from this blog, and keep an eye out for posts and discussions on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. See you there!