New Habits, New Recipes

A couple of months ago Andy and I started a new weekend routine. On Saturday we look at the week ahead and see who is gone which nights and we make a meal plan for the week to get us through to the following weekend. We check the fridge, freezer, and pantry for inspiration and try to use up what we already have. Then we make a grocery list.

Sunday morning after church we head straight to the grocery store along with everyone else in our town, but with our list, it’s a 15 minute stop (thanks, Aldi!). We head home, make lunch, and often take a Sunday nap. Then Andy does laundry and I prep meals for the week.

I’m sure this sounds really boring, but the predictability of the routine has been really nice for us. It’s kind of like a re-set before the week begins again. And knowing what we’re cooking for the next 6 days takes all the, “UGH, what should we do for dinner tonight?” completely out of the equation. If we’re not feeling a meal one night, we’ll swap it for one we were planning to make later in the week, or for the always ready frozen pizza, so there’s flexibility. ūüėČ

Since we’ve chosen to make Sunday slow on purpose, we take our time and usually try a new recipe that night. Tonight Andy made this single sheet pan¬†Pesto Chicken¬†recipe with baby potatoes and pesto that was left over from a previous recipe, some chicken we already had in the freezer, and green tomatoes from this week’s local farm food share we joined.

 

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Not a Food Blogger.

It. Was. Amazing!

While he was making that, I started a new soup recipe we hadn’t made before, but we had a huge bunch of kale from the same farm food share, so I found this copycat Olive Garden recipe for Zuppa Toscana that was super simple with onion, potatoes, and kale. Hopefully, it’s good! We’ll have it tomorrow night for dinner.

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Still not a food blogger.

My friend Amber wrote recently about trading dinner with family or friends and I am totally into it! If you want to do this with me, hit me up- it doesn’t have to be once a week, it could be once a month- but I LOVE THIS IDEA! We’ve been trying a lot of new recipes lately and I’d be happy to cook one for you!

And if you have made anything you love that is even remotely healthy and delicious, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy Cooking ūüôā

I didn’t marry my best friend

 

The idea of marrying your best friend seems like a relatively new one. When I was growing up and even dating, that wasn’t a big thing. But in recent years, I heard about it more and more. It sounds like a nice concept. Unless you’re like me and you know that you didn’t marry your best friend. Then the idea made me uncomfortable. Did I marry the wrong person? Should I have waited for my¬†best friend? Whoever that was?

I was in my mid-twenties and my husband was in his late twenties when we met. We had known each other for a few months casually before we started dating. Soon into dating, we started talking about marriage. We wondered how long we should wait to get engaged and we thought six months seemed reasonable. Andy proposed exactly six months later and we married a few months after that.

Did I love this man? Entirely. Was I committed? Absolutely. Was he my best friend? Um…. no. I had known him for barely over a year! I had shoes I’d known longer than him. Let alone my friends from childhood, high school, and college. I knew all their stories and they knew all of mine. These women were my collection of best friends. He was not my best friend– he was my husband. Even now I cringe while writing that because it seems socially unacceptable to admit, but it’s true.

Andy and I have had discussions about this over the years and he said I wasn’t his best friend either. He also came into our marriage with best friends from junior high, high school and college. Many of them stood with us on our wedding day to acknowledge the role and the history they held in our lives.

Two years into our marriage we started to make new couple friends and then we were a package deal, a two-for-one friend special. New friends would come into our lives to take the role of the best friend if even just for a season.

True confession- I actually hate the phrase ‘best friend’ and I’ve avoided naming anyone that my whole life. I always felt like it would leave someone out if I declared someone my best friend. So I’ve called my friends just, friends. Or, “friends we’re hanging out with a lot right now.”

Fast forward a dozen years and a road trip across the country later. Andy and I have built hundreds and hundreds of shared experiences into our relationship. With knowing each other for only a year when we got married, we simply didn’t have time and history on our side yet. But now we’ve gotten to know each other better than anyone else.

When something funny, good or bad happens, I want to tell Andy about it first. It wasn’t always this way. There were things I’d race to tell my friends or family. But that’s shifted over the years. It dawned on me recently that my husband is my best friend now. So I told him so over dinner one night. He smiled, considered it a moment, and said I’m his best friend too.

Imagine that.

Thirteen years after meeting him, I realize I did marry my best friend.

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A recent afternoon walk in the sunshine.

 

Touch the hem of His robe

Today in church we read Matthew 14. The message honed in on the story of Peter getting out of the boat to walk on water. I was caught up in what happened just after that when Jesus got to the other side.

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

When my brother was sick I was praying all. the. time. Little bits of bible verses would come to mind and I would pray them for my brother. This passage reminded me of a similar story of the woman who had been bleeding for years. It’s found in Matthew 9, Luke 8 and Mark 5 where we get the longest account.

The story tells that crowds of people were pushing around Jesus and this woman thought to herself, if I can just touch his robe, I’ll get well. She got herself through the crowd and touched Jesus’ clothes. Instantly she felt the blood dry up (message version) and knew she had been healed completely. Jesus knew something had happened to and asked who touched him. The disciples were like, um… we’re in a crowd. Literally, everyone is touching you.

31¬†His disciples said, ‚ÄúWhat are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you‚Äôre asking, ‚ÄėWho touched me?‚Äô Dozens have touched you!‚ÄĚ

Jesus is persistent and says he felt power go out of him. The woman knows she has to fess up so she tells her whole story while she kneels at his feet.

And this is the best part. When Jesus responds he tells her¬†‚ÄúDaughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you‚Äôre healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.‚ÄĚ (Matthew 5:34)

Often when I would pray for my brother to be healed I would reference this story in my prayers. I would tell/ask God, hey— just let him touch the hem of your robe and be healed. Just a tiny piece of your power. Could you direct it to his body and heal him?

Going back to the verses we read today from Matthew 14.

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Reading it brought to mind all those prayers I had prayed. Prayers left unanswered for who knows why. Or maybe they were answered and my brother lived much longer than was originally intended. I have no idea, but I like that possibility.

Okay, back to these verses ^^

I love that all the surrounding areas were like, “Hey- Jesus is in town, bring all the sick to be healed!” And I imagined what it would be like if Jesus’ time on earth coincided with my little life right now. Jesus being in town, or just getting to the other side of a lake would be big news. I would have bought two airline tickets so fast to get my brother to wherever Jesus was. Just to push him through the crowds to touch the edge of His clothes so he could be healed.

When my brother died two years ago I yelled/prayed to God to remind Him that I was asking for my brother to be healed here, not in heaven!

So what do I do with these thoughts now? Knowing Justin could be sitting with Jesus this moment? Heck, maybe he has touched the hem of His robe!

Image courtesy of: Hem of his garment, "Faith that Touches" sermon at http://icdpentecostal.org

The truth is- I don’t know what to do with these thoughts. And to be honest they don’t come with as much frequency as they used to. So when they do, I just write them down to make note of them. To remember.

The only thing I can think to say is what my dad said just the other day. “It’s weird that he’s not here.”

Six short words. But it sums up all my feelings too.

 

Grief Anniversary, year 2

Two years ago on May 13th, my brother died. As the days got closer to May 13th this year I cried more often, remembering the days before he died. 1 year ago our family got together on the anniversary of his death for breakfast. This year we were invited to a birthday party on my husband’s side of the family. I planned to attend while knowing if I needed to bail on the day of, that would be fine too.

Just a few hours before the party when I couldn’t stop crying, my husband suggested I opt out of the party. The next thing he suggested was a nap. It was the first thing I said yes to all day. I was in a weird mood, like a brain fog and every question he asked me I answered with, “I don’t know.”

The morning started out not too abnormal. After crying in the bathroom I tried to put a sentence together for Andy and all I could think to say was, “I used to have a brother and I don’t have one anymore.” ¬†It’s a weird thing my brain does. I imagine what I would do if he was still here. Things I would text him that I find while out in the store. Questions I would ask him about family. I imagine we’d be hanging out more often than we did. Which I don’t even know is accurate, but in my pretend fantasy, we do.

A friend came over for a walk. We picked lilacs from the neighbor’s yard and rearranged our living room furniture. ¬†I don’t know why rearranging furniture is good for the soul, but it is for me.

After she left, my husband and I divided some hosta in the front yard. We gave some to a new neighbor we met that morning and the rest we replanted. ¬†We planted some basil and then I didn’t know what to do next.

My mind got a little twisty and I couldn’t seem to shake the repeating thought of, “my brother’s gone, my brother’s gone.”

May 13th is hard. His birthday is way better. On that day we’ve gathered with family and celebrated the day he came into this world. The day he left this world is so much more somber. I hope to eventually treat the day differently. Several hours into the day I called my mom and she¬†said she kept telling herself it was Saturday instead of focusing on the date. What a simple strategy. I tried it and it worked well enough for me to get in the car to go to a family birthday on my husband’s side of the family.

As May 13th approched, my friends came closer. The first messages I received were from a friend¬†in Washington DC, followed by friends in Kenya and St Louis Park the day before my brother’s anniversary. Then Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nebraska and Oregon. Family and framily from Corcoran, St Michael, Maple Grove and Chanhassen rounded out the messages. Each person simply checking in, acknowledging the day and remembering with me.

Each message meant a lot because each person took time to remember, and then they did the hard part, they acted. The got out their phone and sent a message.

Maybe it’s because words are a big deal to me, but it meant a lot.

It meant a lot that all these people who have their own lives, they stopped to acknowledge and remember something important that happened in mine two years ago.

The People Part!

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Andy on the ferry from Orcas Island to Anacortes in Washington

After visiting the North Cascades we went back up into Canada, but this time to see friends. Our number 2 reason to take this trip was to spend time with people we love that we rarely get to see. We started calculating our vacation time versus the distance and cost to travel to see people and how many years it would take to see them all, and it would have been years upon years. So when we started kicking around the idea of this trip, dropping in with¬†friends and family along the way made great sense! We couldn’t think of any better way to maintain those relationships than to spend time together- so we did.

We lived and laughed with everyone we connected with and our time together¬†was heart and soul filling. Often¬†our friends shared how God has been working in their lives recently and we stepped away encouraged. It would be a ridiculously long list if I mentioned each person individually¬†and shared how much we enjoyed our visit so I’m going to summarize and please know that we LOVED our time with you and are so grateful we were able to visit!!

From BC, Washington, Oregon and California¬†we visited 48 friends and family! (Not counting¬†Montana and Alberta there were another 19.) Huh, it really didn’t feel like a lot until I counted them all!¬†See– this would have taken years to pull off with annual¬†vacation weeks!

The big chunk of¬†visiting took place over a month, with camping and a hotel night in between. It was definitely what Andy affectionately calls, “The people part of the trip.” He¬†said if we were going to move somewhere we should pick the Pacific Northwest because we’d have some built in support to build community out here. All I have to say is tempting… because everyone we’ve spent time with¬†is wonderful. And then I think of the people that call us Auntie and Uncle and I want to point the car east and head toward home.

But not yet. We have a month to go (roughly- as I’m writing this) and I’m doing my best to enjoy these moments as I’m in them. I’m thankful for this time that Andy and I have together and am so grateful for the kind people in our lives that we’ve been able to reconnect with on this trip.

Thanks for inviting us into your lives, homes, vacations, breakfasts, lunch meet ups, sailboat, football stadium, beach bonfire and ice cream shops. We love you all.

And come to Minnesota, will ya?

The “Why Not?” Trip

About a year ago¬†we started lightly kicking around the idea of taking time off work to travel. Now it’s actually happening. We are leaving in July. We expect to spend around¬†3ish months road tripping.

Only one campsite reservation has been made for one night, so the trip is pretty wide open. But so far it’s looking like….Montana, Canadian Rockies, BC, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

When we first started testing this idea of travel out on unsuspecting friends and family- we wanted to hear how it sounded coming out- did we believe ourselves? Could we really give this a try?

One of the best responses we received was from a family friend who shared this story:

It‚Äôs from a commencement address attributed to Brian Dyson, who held several senior management positions with Coca-Cola during his long career. He told a class of Georgia Tech graduates, “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air: work, family, health, friends and spirit. You’re keeping all of these in the air.

“You soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. It will never be the same.”

We knew it was true.

And we realized this trip would be giving space for nurturing and growing our faith, relationships, and hopefully our health too.

If you live in or have connections in these areas and want to give us recommendations of places to see or people to stay with- we’d love to hear about it. Please share your tips in the comments!

It’s time to bounce that rubber ball!¬†