Loving Lately [#7]

I have a list about a mile long of things I’ve been loving lately, but here are my top 5!

1. Bulletproof coffee. I’m finally realizing that this is a trend for a reason- it’s delicious! It took me about a year to try it just because it sounds so weird. There are several recipes floating around, but I’ve been using: 8 ounces hot coffee, ~1 tablespoon butter (I use Kerrygold), ~1 tablespoon coconut oil, and canned coconut milk. Whiz it up and the blender and you have a frothy, tasty drink! You could also add cinnamon and sugar if you’re feeling really crazy.

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2. Mumford & Sons “There Will Be Time.” No words. I just love it!

3. ProBar’s koka moka almond butter. This was a completely random find at REI, of all places. It is basically all my favorite things in one little packet. I’ve been craving smoothies for breakfast lately but they don’t keep me very full, so nut butter packs like these are the perfect accompaniment to take on the road with me.

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4. Brier Creek Beer Garden. Josh and I just moved to the Brier Creek area, so we’re still discovering its hidden gems. On the eve of my 27th birthday, we went here to grab a drink and celebrate. I got a cab sauv and Josh got an IPA which were both good. I loved the atmosphere and all of the plants and stringy lights (two of my faves!). We would definitely go back here again, especially during the warmer months when we can sit outside on the patio.

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5. Homemade bread. My sincere apologies to anyone who has spent time with me in the past few weeks and is sick of hearing about bread, but I feel like I uncovered some age-old secret! Did anyone else know that making your own bread (sans bread machine) was so easy, and so delicious? I did not. I’ve been experimenting with different flour blends, add-ins, etc. New hobby! I used this recipe for my first trial run and loved it.

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Proud mama
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This one is 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour- turned out a little chewier!

 

 

 

Lentil Curry

Disclaimer: this recipe looks awful but tastes amazing. I made it one Sunday after church when it was cold/windy and I wanted something hot, but more substantial than soup. Enter: CURRY!

If you’ve ever been to my house for dinner, I’ve probably made you curry, either with chicken or chickpeas. But this recipe uses the humble lentil- cheap, easy, and satisfying (enter Michael Scott joke here).

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This recipe is pretty quick to make, especially if you have a rice cooker, and the leftovers make a great lunch for the next day. Just be sure to use regular coconut milk instead of light, because that’s what makes everything so creamy and delicious. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
-1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
-1 small onion, chopped
-1-2 inches ginger, chopped
-1 cup dry lentils
-1 cup chopped carrots
-1 can diced tomatoes
-1 can full fat coconut milk
-1 tablespoon curry powder
-1 teaspoon of turmeric if you have it, because it’s supposed to be good for you and why not?
-salt to taste

Directions:
1. Cook dry lentils as directed (I cooked them along with the carrots + 3 cups water in my rice cooker, which is magic)
2. Sauté onions and ginger in a big pot with some coconut oil (cook the carrots here too if you aren’t cooking them with the lentils)
3. Add tomatoes, coconut milk, curry powder, turmeric, and salt to pot; boil for a quick sec
4. Add cooked lentils and carrots
5. Simmer for ~10 min

P.S. For best results, serve over basmati rice!

Staying the Course

This morning, I opened up Present Over Perfect (a book that I will likely be referring to until the end of forever) and read these liberating words from Shauna Niequist:

“We live in a culture that shouts, that prescribes rather narrowly what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a success, what it means to live a valuable life. But those definitions require us to live on a treadmill, both literally and figuratively, always hustling to fit in, to be thin enough and young enough and sparkly enough… But that’s not life. That’s not where the fullness of joy and meaning are found.”

She then goes on to challenge readers with bold questions that deserve some thought:

“What do you need to leave behind in order to recover that essential self that God created? What do you need to walk away from in order to reclaim those parts of you that God designed, unique to you and for His purposes?”

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It was with those questions lingering in my mind that I walked into church this morning, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me about anything unnecessary I have picked up along the way that may be hindering me from my God-given purpose. Our pastor brought up these verses that spoke directly to my heart:

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” -Acts 20:24

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” -1 Corinthians 4:1-2

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I make it so complicated when it is really very simple: I am to stay faithful to the course that God has given me. I don’t need to look around, comparing and competing, but instead I am free (free!) to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God” in my own life, in my own sphere of influence, with my own voice.

The beautiful thing is, testifying to the gospel could look a lot of different ways for a lot of different people. It could mean staying faithful in your job and loving others well even when it’s difficult, or welcoming refugees into America and helping them resettle, or becoming a teacher and sharing the love of Jesus with your students. I bet that if we can quiet the noise of our approval-seeking minds long enough to instead seek God and His perfect will, then He will be faithful to nudge us toward what our “course” is. We are then free to devote ourselves to that course joyfully and wholeheartedly, confident that we are walking out our purpose.

Letting Go

I recently listened to a podcast on stress while, ironically, commuting to work during rush hour. The speaker, Dr. Henry Cloud, mentioned two big ways we can cut down on our stress:

1. Let go of the need for control.

2. Let go of the need for perfection.

For me, I think that holds a lot of truth. This season of my life has held so much joy but also a lot of stress along with it. I am someone who loves routine and clings to it a bit too tightly, almost like a safety net. During these past few months of undergoing what seems like every transition under the sun, I have felt my control of things slowly slip through my fingers. Of course, we are never really in control of our lives, but the illusion of it makes me feel more secure. 😉

As far as perfection goes, I have already blogged about how that myth trips me up time and time again. Of course I am going to feel stressed when I feel that I am not living up to my standard of perfection… I will never live up to it, because it doesn’t exist. It’s like the carrot before the horse and cart, always dangling just out of reach.

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Things that help me release my death grip of control on life: quiet early mornings, slow cups of coffee, and fuzzy socks 🙂

So I’m sitting there in I-40 traffic, listening to that podcast and wondering how on earth a controlling perfectionist like myself is ever going to let go enough to experience less stress. Isn’t it funny how any time I find myself feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, it’s because I have forgotten the central message of the gospel? We are broken and messed up and may never get it right, but Jesus- the only human who ever achieved perfection on earth- loves us and trades our brokenness for His perfection. 

Jesus gives us everything He has- His love, His relationship to the Father, His very life- and asks only one thing of us in return: that we surrender to Him. How freeing it is to give up my illusions of control and perfection and instead trust in the One who actually is perfect and actually is in control.

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Also: fall strolls

In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

It’s a beautiful and freeing concept, but one that is hard for me to consistently grasp. My life isn’t found in clutching at illusions of perfection and control, and beyond that, doing so is actually stifling my soul. The true rest, peace, and freedom I am seeking can be found only when I surrender to Christ. What grace!

I am thankful that despite my need for control, despite my desire for perfection, despite my stubborn insistence that I can do it all on my own, Jesus is constantly offering an alternative that is available to me whenever I surrender long enough to experience it.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30