A Longing Heart for Overworked Lungs & Sweat

 

I've been sick.  Sick as in, "Can a cold really be worse than the flu?" sick. 

Body aching, fatigue & incoherent.  Yet, I have thoughts, reflections & lots of posts I want to write about. 

Yet...I have no energy to write them.  I wanted my next post to be about why food is integral to Redeeming the Table; but, there are times when you sit and stare at the computer (for well over an hour) and you tell yourself, "press save and write later."  Only to come back and tell yourself, "press delete and start over with a clean slate."

There's this little world I live in at 6:00 am in the morning about 3xs a week.  It's a little community I have found that I'm smitten about.  I never thought I would come to a day where I longed for "gym time" (insert: heart racing, sweating pouring, muscles aching, is the end near "gym time"). 

Ben's been going for a year and I've officially been there for eight months.  And our sweet "little gym that could," moved back to their old-new location this past Tuesday.  And I'm sad.  Sad, because I've been sick and haven't been able to partake in the beauty of the welcome. Sad, because I was sick last week too.  Sad, because on top of being sick, I'm also giving up Facebook for Lent, which means I am missing even more of this beautiful community bantering back & forth. 

Community is about redemption, and this community has brought me a bit of it in my life.  I still remember my first day with apprehension and butterflies twirling about inside.  I hadn't worked out in a setting like this since, well...high school gym class.  It was hard stuff (still is), but I'm so glad I stuck it out and did it for me. 

Because, when I think about what holds most of us back in life, it's a fear of failure & rejection.  We don't allow ourselves to dream of something better, because this, this current life is all we have ever known and our confidence to venture out into the unknown lies like a deflated balloon. 

What Jogo did for me was build my confidence.  From the coaches to the fellow Jogoers to my amazing friend (& fellow Jogoer) Jordan & to my most wonderful husband.  Little did they know that with their words of encouragement, they blew air into that deflated balloon of a soul in me.  They filled me with a confidence that I could dream of something better.  That I could become something better.  That I deserve something better.

And I am someone better these eight months later. 

We all have those deflated balloons lying around.  How they get blown up is different from one person to the next.  If you're anything like me, I've put up walls of false confidence, only to see deep down that my sensitive spirit fears rejection (so I avoid the areas where I might face rejection).  God gives me people, like the people at my gym, my beautiful fellow mothers, & my family, who blow words of encouragement into my balloon soul. 

Yet, I'm most encouraged when I ask Jesus who he says that I am, which is: 

your beloved

your creation

you love me as I am

you've called me chosen---for your kingdom

unashamed to call me your own (excerpt from a song)

Where in your life do you find those deflated balloons that need encouragement?  Where do you find yourself putting up walls of defense, in order to avoid hurt? 

 

A Year Ago: So Very Good

A Five Year Old's Redemption

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—Psalm 107:2

When I was five years old, I had a deep love for Jesus.  My parents had a mattress store where I would get dropped off from the school bus.  I was in morning kindergarten and arrived just before lunch.  Some days I would have to stay a bit longer than a five year old would like.  I also wished my dad had gone into the candy store business (much more lucrative to a child). 

One particular afternoon, I sat spinning round & around in a swivel rocking chair. In my hands lie a tape recorder.  The old school kind that you'd be sure to find in an 80s has been electronic store.  Inside was a red tape that I would play over & over again.  Psalty the Singing Songbook.  He was pretty much soaring on the kids' pop charts at the time.  He had all the right moves, blue songbook, mission to tell kids about Jesus and he liked to sing (2 of the three just sound a bit eerie present day).  Although I can see some theological differences in the Psalty of my youth, it allowed me to love Jesus all the more.

So there I was, spinning, hitting rewind, singing, listening, and then something caught my eye outside.  Beyond the parking lot lay a big vacant, dirt lot.  Inside that dirt lot was a huge fenced playground.  And inside that fenced playground were kids (there was a daycare in the same complex).  As far as I knew, there were no kids around me and they looked interesting.  I heard Psalty say over & over, "My pages are full of songs.  I teach kids to worship Jesus."  Well, those kids might have never heard of Jesus and Psalty seemed the best avenue to share.

I stopped spinning and grabbed my recorder with red tape and set out.  I trudged through the piercing sun, but knew nothing could get in my way of sharing Jesus.  I didn't know what my actual plan would be, I figured it would come once I got there (I was a "go with the flow" type of evangelist).  The kids were running, chasing & yelling all about.  Yet, once they saw me, it was as if someone said, "I give ice cream to kids who can be silent!"  There I was in my coolness, my nifty recorder and me, the only child on the outside looking in.  I kept my cool, kind of shrugged my shoulders in that "you know you want to be my friend" sort of shrug.  They believed it and ran right over.  Little did I know it was only because whenever a group of caged children see another child on the outside--they instantly gravitate to their possible freedom.  

I said..."Hi!"  They responded with similar niceties.  We exchanged names, what I was doing on the "outside" and asked if there was an escape route planned. 

Then, one kid asked me, "whatcha got there?"

"Oh, this?" I replied, "it's my tape recorder, ya wanna listen? (as I say this with a bit of leering tone). 

They all chimed in, "YES!" 

I press play.  I think they're hooked. 

Someone asks, "what is that?"

Me in my usual five year old sauveness and very nonchalantly reply, "Oh, it's Psalty the Singing Songbook, he teaches kids to worship Jesus and out comes the music."

What ensued was me testifying of the wonderful love of Jesus and how Jesus loved them too.  All of this before the teacher saw what was happening and didn't try to corral me in with the rest of the kids.  I told them I'd be back if I could. 

Unfortunately, when I would return the teachers made it evident that I should probably stay away, because I was a little distracting.  But, I harbored no bitterness.  I look back on that day with such sweet fondness.  There are people who tell stories of their wretched childhoods, bad relationships with their parents and how they began to see God like their failed parents.  I have some real wretchedness in my childhood & youth.  I have had some real pain in my relationship with my parents as well.  But, one thing I have always been thankful for is Jesus' grace he gave me that day. 

That day marked for me how much he was who he said he was.  He was good to the core.  He wouldn't fail me.  He never intended for me to grow up with such hostility & brokenness.  He has showed me that he would spring up water even in the desert.  Like that day, in the middle of the dirt lot under the blazing Arizona sun, he would grow a garden and continue to plant seeds of redemption along the way. 

A Year Ago: Homemade Oreos

Loneliness to Solitude to Healthy Sweet Potato Chips

Ben & I are doing another round of Whole 30. The second time around isn't really that hard.  I didn't feel like I was kicking a habit (mentally or physically) like last time.  If anything, I've simply been a little bored with it this time.  I think this is partially due to the boredom, which comes from the ending days of winter.  I'm bored with the constant 40 degree weather, the same old food & the knowing that Spring is ahead, but I must wait. 

The crocuses taunt me, the closed daffodils tease me and the sunshine certainly deceives me.  And although I live in this paradox of the 'soon but not yet,' so the season of Lent has been placed in with such thoughtfulness & grace.  It's a time of loneliness, reflection, & sorrow as we count the days leading to that hill where the world would stand still.  I am led to green pastures, still waters; as well as, walking through the valley of shadows.  I often forget that allowing a loneliness within myself is necessary to find the inner stillness of solitude & peace.  I forget that one must walk in the shadows to know the green pastures when they're in plain view.

Henri Nouwen wrote about the pervading sense of busyness clouds our ability to see loneliness as essential to the human existence.  With the examines to be taken & given, phone calls to be made, emails to return, conferences/meetings/seminars to attend serve more than distractions; but, they are:

"mostly preventing me from facing my lonely self which should be my first source of search & research."

Lent is also known as a time to give something up; yet, too often I've heard of this "giving up" as the thesis of the season.  The giving up of one thing is done to allow oneself to listen & walk the journey as Jesus did.  It is to know more of him.  Giving up is to take away a distraction, in order to embrace the loneliness (as Nouwen puts it) and find true solitude.  It's turning our deserts into gardens, but it's not easy (and honestly, I would rather it would be abolished altogether).

This difficult road is the road of conversion, the conversion from loneliness into solitude.  Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude.  To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.--Nouwen

One way I run away from loneliness is by being on Facebook (I know, I'm probably the only one).  I distract myself, or disallow myself to be still.  It feeds my desire to stay up to date, or know what someone thinks about my status updates.  It feeds my need for affirmation & praise.  Yet, I equate my time on FB (if the tab is left open on my browser) with being inside all day doing nothing and eating crap food.  My body feels gross and I wish I could hit "rewind" on life's remote control.  That's how my soul feels when it's vegged out on FB, kind of like I fed it crap food.  I feel like Debbie Downer (MWAH-MWAH-MWAH). 

So as you're embracing loneliness to find the garden of solitude (filling your soul with nutritious food)...embrace this recipe of baked sweet potatoes, which will fill your body with nutritious carbs & give you energy (especially post-workout).  How are you embracing loneliness in your life?  How do you allow for the still, small voice?

Baked Sweet Potato Chips (printable recipe)

I use a mandoline to slice these.  If you don't have a mandoline then you could try using a food processor with the slicer disc, or cut very thinly using a sharp chef's knife. A note on sweet potatoes.  You most likely will find the red/orange skinned ones at the grocery store labeled "yams;" however, these are probably sweet potatoes labeled as yams.  So, if all you find are "yams," pick them up and use them (as they are sweet potatoes). 

Ingredients:

2-3 rather large sweet potatoes

Olive oil

Celtic Sea Salt

Garlic Powder

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line one or two lined baking sheets with parchment paper or a silipat.  Set them aside.  Take your sweet potatoes and scrub them (I use a veggie & fruit cleaner as well).  Dry them off with a towel.  Cut the ends off of the sweet potatoes.  Then, (depending on the length) cut them in half.  Using a mandoline with a 1/8 inch setting, slice them.  Put them in a large bowl, add the olive oil (about 1/8-1/4 cup) & mix all around to coat all the sliced sweet potatoes.

Line them next to one another on the lined baking sheeting, but avoid overlapping them.  Sprinkle with sea salt & garlic powder.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets.  The edges will curl up and become nice & crunchy. 

Other Thoughts: Your preference for how much salt is really up to you. Some other ideas for these chips is to replace the garlic salt with smoked paprika, cinnamon, chili & lime zest, ginger.  You could also use coconut oil in place of the olive oil.