Fruit + What It Tells About Me

I just witnessed a scene of classic road rage played out right across the road. The UPS driver parked on the road and proceeded to take his good old time unloading a mammoth box from the back, then walked it to the front door of our neighbor’s house. The problem was, he parked right on the hill, so the cars behind him couldn’t see to safely pass. This entailed quite a back-up of rush hour work traffic, a terrific honking and a very angry man yelling so loudly that I could hear every bad word he said from inside my house.

(Given, it was a dumb move on the UPS driver’s part. He easily could’ve just pulled into the driveway and saved himself and a lot of other people grief.)

I don’t know the angry man. I don’t know what else he had faced in his day. I do know that his actions told me something about him. That he wasn’t exercising the fruit of the Spirit. That he was impatient. That he didn’t hesitate to use bad words.

These verses came to mind:

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” [Luke 6:43-45]

And I think of myself. How do I respond when someone spreads false rumors about me and those I love? How do I act when I get stuck in a fifteen minute stand-still due to construction on the road I’m taking? (true story) Do I treat others the way that Jesus does?

What is the fruit of my life telling about me?

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Recipe // Southwestern Egg Scramble

I’m always on the look-out for quick ‘n easy breakfasts. This is my new favorite “brekkie”, as we (and the Australians) call it. :)

southwesternesSaute’ onions, peppers, and potatoes in butter. I like to use frozen hash browns for convenience sake, but you could also use shredded or cubed potatoes. Season with seasonings of your choice. I use tumeric, a little dash of cumin, and garlic salt.

Scramble eggs. Top with sauteed mixture, salsa, and sour cream.

Easy peasy.

It seems almost too simple to post as a recipe, but maybe it’ll help someone out of their breakfast-making-slump. :) I always like to hear new ideas for breakfasts… leave me lots of ideas in the comments?? ;)

The Ordinary, Everywhere [Guest Post]

This article was written by a friend of mine who is living in a Muslim country. I enjoyed her perspective and gained her permission to share it as a guest post. Enjoy this glimpse into her world of the glamorous and ordinary. [All photos are hers]

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IMG_1662Today, when I walked through the butcher shop/restaurant, I had to be careful to skirt the 4 ft. slab of raw meat dangling in the middle of the room. When I walk through the city, I have to avoid garbage, puddles, and mud with who-knows-what-else mixed in. When I make my weekly journey to the grocery store, I have to ignore stares and unwelcome calls for my attention.

I’ve eaten different and delicious foods—balls of potatoes, mixed with who-knows-what, dipped in batter, fried, and smashed on bread with fried egg, olives, and a thin tomato sauce. Avocado milkshakes. Lentils in a thin broth, sopped up with bread. Couscous with chicken, vegetables, and a stewed raisin-and-onion topping. Some common American foods—cheese, peanut butter, salad dressings, ice cream, boneless chicken breasts—are expensive even by American standards.

I see a woman in a black burqa, gloves, and a veil covering even her eyes. I see huge bags of spices, stalls overflowing with scarves, pottery, leather goods, jewelry. I see carts mounded with gigantic deep-red strawberries, oranges, and bananas—all selling for less than $1.50 a kilo. I smell garbage, urine, and orange blossoms. During the winter, I shiver in our house without central heating, and during the summer, I’ll sweat. I sit on a low, wide, backless couch, with only pillows for lumbar support. To buy milk and eggs, I speak a few words in a different language, guttural, with sounds that don’t even exist in English, and—being too proud—hope that the shop-keeper doesn’t offer any pleasantries, because I’ll likely (a) not understand him and (b) get my grammar hopelessly wrong in whatever I say in return.

Now. Let me give you a different picture. This morning, I had a huge cup of coffee (complete with caramel coffee creamer, a gift from my mother-in-law) and scrambled eggs for breakfast, and enjoyed an e-book on my Kindle. I walked about a hundred yards to school, and on my break, I bought a 10-cent square of dark chocolate from the shop-keeper. I know the 3-5 words necessary for this, and when he makes conversation—something about me knowing the language—I just smile, show him my textbook, say “little by little,” and leave. After school, I devoured a spicy, saucy, cilantro-y chicken sandwich with fries. In the States, this would probably cost me $8-10 at an ethnic restaurant; here, it’s $1.50. This afternoon, I will make white chicken chili, mix up salad dressing, and do homework, and tonight, we’re going out with English-speaking acquaintances to celebrate a birthday.

In the streets, I see many women in traditional dress, but I see the same number in skinny jeans and sweaters. I can sit in a modern cafe with wi-fi and drink high-quality iced coffee, and a modern mall, complete with frozen yogurt, Burger King, and Pizza Hut, is only around a mile away. In our neighborhood, I can walk on streets that are regularly cleaned, and a bed of poppies and nasturtiums is outside our front door. When I’m tired of walking, I can ride in a taxi for around a dollar. I can buy peanuts and pay someone to grind them into peanut butter for a nominal fee, and I can buy a warm doughnut dipped in sugar for 10 cents. When I do laundry, I use Tide detergent and the American washer that came with our furnished apartment (and did I mention how beautiful and spacious the apartment is?). The other day, I let an older gentleman go ahead of me in line at the grocery store. When I left the store, I heard someone calling me, and it took me a while to realize that, this time, it was just that older gentleman saying thank you.

Which picture is accurate? The glamorous, difficult one, or the mundane, comfortable one?

They both are. I suppose I could talk about the importance of perspective and looking for the best in every situation, and while that’s a valid point, I want to focus on something different.

Life in a foreign country, for anyone, will be exciting and difficult—and this life is the stuff of story and legend. But, even in a foreign country, life can be normal and comfortable. A change of location will not automatically change you.

So. If you struggle with self-discipline in America, you will struggle with it in Africa. If you’re an extrovert in America, you’re still an extrovert in Africa. Conversely, America does not prevent you from seeing with eyes of compassion, from choosing a grateful spirit, from saying hello to your neighbor.

That fact is comforting, because it reminds me that God can use me, with my personality, wherever I am, and that He cares about me—even about my wants—wherever I am. And it’s challenging, because it reminds me that if I want positive change, I have to do something and sacrifice something—no matter where I am.

From America, to developing Africa, to the poorest of undeveloped countries—circumstances and situations will vary, but His love and commandments do not.

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Spring Has Sprung

This spring I feel practically giddy with the delight of it all.

The turning of brown grass into green. Little green shoots poking their heads above ground. The buds on trees slowly coming alive with that fresh spring green color. The cheery daffodils, bright red tulips, and brilliant yellow forsythia bushes. And just SO MUCH GREEN. Invigorating after five months of brown drabness and snow and winter.

april2IMG_2269I think it’s because spring brings so much life with it. New life. After the dormancy of winter and before the harshness that summer heat brings… there is spring.IMG_2088IMG_2270Every year, I get more and more excited about growing things. This year I am so ready for fresh spinach and lettuce salads from the garden. Our own strawberries for the very first time. (Here’s hoping they produce well!) Asparagus on the grill. Lots of squash and carrots and spinach to make into baby food for Avi. Tomato sandwiches and fresh salsa. Raspberries and blackberries from our freshly mulched berry bed. Ahhhh I just can’t wait!

And flowers and food aren’t the only things growing around here. :)Aviella4

This little girlie is growing like crazy. Someone told me they grow when they’re sleeping… if that’s true, she sure is growing. :)

The newness of spring + a newborn baby reminds me of that verse in Isaiah 43:19:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Am I living in the new freshness of spring in my spiritual life, or do I find myself stuck back in the dormancy of winter? Am I growing continually?


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Happy spring to you!

These Days// Spring is Coming

…we are trying to thrive and grow. Good things take time!Aviella's first bath 296…we sit on the couch and eat pie and hold the baby.pie1IMG_0827…we are more than ready for spring. The red finches are building a nest on the front porch and the daffodils are tentatively poking their heads through the ground. (Never mind those two inches of snow last week and those freezing temperatures that are back this morning — yesterday’s thunderstorm was an encouraging sign!)march5…the mail is so much fun! Lots of happy cards and packages. :) (Yes, our mailbox seems to have sad run-ins with snow plows and careless drivers)march3…have been so gray and dreary and overcast. So we light candles, turn on Jim Brickman Pandora, and work on little projects like photo announcement designing, photo books, and addressing dozens of envelopes. I like cozy days. :)

..life is calculated in 2 1/2-4 hour segments. Now what time did she last eat?  the foggy brain tries to remember. (Hungry babies aren’t too impressed when their moms take pictures ;) )IMG_1713

 …and what have YOU been doing these days?

Newborn Tidbits

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Pink tulips. Little legs that like to curl up. Those big dark eyes that stare innocently into yours. Polka dotted sleepers. Folding tiny socks. Falling asleep on the recliner at 3 am. The delight of discovering little unique characteristics that were already happening in the womb. Finding a new normal. The realization that I am the mom. :O  (Can this really be true?) The wonder of new life.

These are precious days.

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Introducing

Aviella Joy
March 12, 2015
6 lb + 15 oz
20 inches
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SHE'S HERE.

…and she’s stolen her daddy’s heart already!IMG_0522

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Some of you may have guessed what the sudden blog silence was all about. (Kudos to the friend who emailed and wondered if the silence meant baby)

Why yes, it did. :)

We’re so grateful and blessed to have our healthy little girl safely here with us.  There are adjustments, of course, but that’s to be expected. (Even pregnancy insomnia couldn’t adequately prepare one for being on demand every several hours ’round the clock) It’s an honor to care for such a precious miracle. We’re enjoying her so much! Praising God for His generous gift to us.