Search for a Church: Revisited, Part 2

So a while ago I posted about looking for another church. I’m proud to report that I found a place that I absolutely love!

Last night, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the pastor and his wife’s ministry there. As I was listening to the stories people shared and watching the faces of the many people in attendance, I could feel the overwhelming love that the pastor and his family has for the church and the love that this church family has for the pastor and his family. I’m glad that I was there to be a part of it.

Tonight, I gathered in fellowship with 250 women from the church family and let me tell you, we had a blast! There was food, fellowship and FUNNY! They brought in an improv comedy team that did a fantastic job! It was really a great time!

The last two nights have been lots of fun, but the best part is: I get to go back for more fun tomorrow. It is truly a JOY to be a part of a church family where you can feel the love everyone has for each other and has for God. I am so grateful that God brought me to a place that I am excited to go to every week! Multiple times a week in fact. Just in the short amount of time since I’ve started attending this church, I have met so many great people who have taken me in and embraced me like I’ve been a member for years. We have a wonderful head pastor whose love for Christ and the Word is evident every time he gets up to speak! And his wife, who is an associate pastor, is great. I even had to confess to the pastor that she was the reason I came back after visiting once. She is such a warm, welcoming woman, that if he was married to her, I knew he had to be legit.

Anyhow, if it seems I’m really geeked about my church, it’s cause I am. In fact, the whole purpose of this post is to BRAG about how wonderful my new church is. I think I’ve accomplished this goal.

On the Last Hour of Year 26

In approximately 1 hour, I will have completed another year of life. It’s amazing how one period of time can feel like both an eternity and a blink of an eye. It seems like only yesterday when I was reflecting on the last hours of Year 25, yet so much has happened that it seems like a lifetime ago.

I can’t say that I’m not happy to see this year go; Year 26 brought a lot of tears, a lot of pain, a lot of heartache. But it’s in that heartache, that pain, those tears, that I can also find the true gift that this past year has brought me, the opportunity to come into a closer relationship with God. Through my uncertainty, I’ve learned to lean more heavily on Him. Through my anger, I’ve learned to forgive as He forgives. Through my regret, I’ve learned the depth of His grace toward me. Through my sorrow, I’ve learned what it means to truly hope in the Lord.

Yes, this year has been difficult, but as I look back, I choose to see it as a time of growth. Almost like “sink or swim.” No doubt that God wants me to be more Christlike. In Year 26 I was challenged to either strive to become more so or to drown in bitterness and self-pity. With everything that happened, and given the woman I am, there was no in-between option. It was a “sink or swim” year. And while I may not be ready to go up against Michael Phelps, I’m still above water and I feel those swimmer muscles developing.

So as I move into Year 27, I expect and welcome continued growth. I’ll admit, I hope that the most difficult part, the breaking down, is over and I can move on to the building up part with relative ease, but I doubt that will be the case. From my experiences in these 26 years of life, I find that once life seems to be moving along with relative ease, my God likes to rattle things around. Maybe (hopefully) there won’t be quite as much rattling going on in Year 27, maybe just a little rattling. Yes, that is my prayer for this next year in life: Lord, I pray you make me more caring, more compassionate, more loving, more like Christ – with minimal rattling. Amen.

Taco Night Revamped

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Last night I had a hankering for tacos. So I made a taco-fajita-salad type dish with homemade salsa and homemade sour “cream.”

I had a few beautiful red, yellow and green bell peppers I got from the farmer’s market on Sunday so I sautéed those with some onions and garlic, then added some re-hydrated TVP seasoned with paprika, chili pepper, cumin, oregano, onion powder, black pepper, Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash and Fiesta Lime Mrs. Dash to act as my taco “meat.”

The salsa was made from some heirloom tomatoes I bought from Trader Joe’s. I added some red onions, jalapeño and chunks of avocado then squeezed in some lime juice. I wanted to add cilantro, but I didn’t have any off-hand and didn’t feel like making a trip to the grocery store.

The sour “cream” was made with cashews, water and lemon juice. I didn’t pay much attention to how much of each I used. I just threw some cashews in the blender, added a tiny bit of lemon juice and a little water then adjusted the amount of water and lemon juice as necessary. I was actually kinda surprised with how well it went with the dish. I initially only put a little on in case it was nasty, but ended up using a lot more than what’s in the picture.

After I finished everything, I just threw it all on some chopped up romaine lettuce and ate it as a salad. I must say, it was pretty darn good. It would have been better with some cilantro though. Oh well, next time.

Weekend with My Daddy!

A couple weekends ago my daddy flew out to hang with me. We had fun 🙂

Me & my daddy

My dad’s a big Dodgers fan, so Saturday we went to a Dodgers game. They played the Padres. They won (thanks to two of their worst hitters of the season who decided to get the Dodger’s only two hits of the game at the bottom of the 9th for the win).

It was a good day for a ball game, nice and sunny. They even had a local children’s Taiko drumming group perform before the game because it was Nisei (which means second generation Japanese) week.

I tried to take a picture of my daddy in front of the Think Blue sign, but it’s kinda hard to see. If you get real close to the monitor and squint your eyes you can kinda see some blue in between the trees.

After the game we just hung out. I showed him around one of the areas I go to often and we stopped to eat at Famous Daves, which if you aren’t familiar is a BBQ restaurant. I ate broccoli. And corn. Not a very vegetarian friendly place, but that’s ok.

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Sunday was really laid back. The church I’m attending had a service in the park so we went to that and hung out there for a little while then watched movies until it was time for me to drop him off.

Even though it was a short trip, I’m glad my daddy got a chance to come visit! I had a good time,  hopefully he did too 🙂

Why I’m Fasting Till Dinner

You know that saying “don’t cry over spilled milk?” I wonder if the originator of the saying ever had a time when he had ONE glass of milk left and he was waiting in joyous anticipation for the best moment to drink his cold glass of milk, thinking about how glorious it would be when he took that first refreshing sip and let out that universal “ahhh” of contentment, only to watch all of it SPILL in front of him. I don’t think he did because if he had, he would understand the need to sometimes cry over spilled milk.

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That mess on my kitchen floor? That was my breakfast salad. It spilled. And I wanted to cry. I didn’t, but I promise you I was close. Even as I’m typing this I’m almost worked up to tears. There’s a lot going on in my life right now and I feel that overall I’ve been holding together pretty well. But this?!?!?

I soooooo wanted to eat this. I was getting it ready to take to work with me cause I didn’t have time to eat it at home. I used my last bit of romaine lettuce, my last banana and the last of my walnuts. When it fell, it was like slow motion. I reached for it and yelled “NOOOO,” but it was too late. The next thing I knew, there my beloved breakfast was, spread out on the floor. My first urge was to shovel everything back into the container and pretend as though nothing happened, but the sense in me stopped myself. I’m not 6 years old anymore, I know better than to eat food off of the floor, especially since I know it’s been some weeks since I last mopped that floor. But I wanted to. Badly.

Once I realized that nothing could be done, I cleaned up the mess and went back to the fridge to see what I could eat instead. But the prospect of making something else brought me absolutely no satisfaction. I had lost my appetite. If I couldn’t have a breakfast salad with romaine, banana and walnuts, I didn’t want anything at all. And so, I decided not to eat anything till tonight when I go over to the pastor’s house for dinner. Call it a protest against gravity.

Because I Have a Lot on My Mind

I don’t multi-task well. Call it a flaw, call it a strength, call it what you like, but it’s true. I’m more of an all-or-nothing type person. I know this trait is not popular in this fast changing world, but I’ve learned that it’s best to accept yourself for who you are, popular or not (as you can probably guess I was never one of the “cool kids” in school).

I mention my one-track mind because it’s very much related to some of the stress with which I’m currently dealing. Now, if I were better able to juggle many things at once, this period in my life wouldn’t be very stressful at all ( and when I say “juggle things” here I mean intangible “things” like thoughts, situations, etc. Consequently, I can’t juggle physical things either. I’ve tried and it’s really difficult to remember to throw one ball/apple/whatever while focusing on catching the other. I’m amazed when I see other people do it cause it looks so easy… Anyhow, back to what I was saying).  When a number of changes and decision points come up in the life of someone like me (who likes to focus on one thing at a time), I think there’s this sort of overload. Right now I have so much going on, I can’t focus on anything (I’ve noticed that I can’t even keep a steady train of thought while typing this post).

For the past few weeks, I haven’t been running, I haven’t been cooking, I haven’t been reading, I haven’t done much of anything except watch tv. And I have way too much that I should be doing to waste all those hours watching tv, but it seems like that’s the only way to make all the stuff that’s whirling around in my head pause. Otherwise, I feel like such a scatter-brain that I literally want to curl up in a ball and cry (and to be honest sometimes that’s exactly what I do). Not that any one situation I’m facing is so difficult or troubling, but when added together I feel completely overwhelmed!

If only time would just stand still for a while. Give me a chance to get a handle on each situation one by one. That would be a big help. But with time steadily prancing along, just tra-la-la-ing right past me, whenever I try to focus on one thing, I feel guilty cause I know I have a few other things that must be addressed in a timely fashion. So I attempt to context switch which, as I’ve mentioned, is not my strong suit.  So the end result is nothing more than a bunch of half-baked plans (as a side note, ever have one of those times where a common saying finally makes sense to you? Yeah, this was one of those times. “Strong suit,” card games, I get it. Ok, back to the pity party at hand).

If you know me, you know I’m a planner, albeit at times a last-minute planner, but a planner nonetheless. Having a plan helps me maintain some sense of control in the happenings of my life. But when I don’t have the time to put together a decent plan, this is what happens. I end up frazzled and incapable of doing anything productive. Instead, I find ways to escape handling any of my responsibilities (such as writing a post whose only purpose is to give voice to my complete frazzlement and anything else I can rationalize as necessary for my emotional health. I find that I’m a skilled rationalizer).

Anyway, I’ve escaped long enough for now. I guess I’ll attempt getting some work done, since well, I am at work and getting work done is generally what they pay me for. Although at this point, I feel like I’m just here to run around in one of those little hamster wheels. Actually, I think I’d enjoy running in a hamster wheel more than being here right now (yeah, my career is one of those areas that need to be addressed). Ugh, I need some chocolate.

A Bit of Inspiration

The other day, while perusing one of my favorite health and wellness blogs, A Black Girls Guide To Weight Loss, I saw a post from the end of last year that linked to an article about  a number of bloggers who had undergone incredible weight loss naturally, without drugs, without surgery, without any medical shortcuts, just… naturally.

One thing that I want to point out is that while not all of them attribute their success to exercise, EACH of them talked about changing their eating habits. Exercise is important for many reasons, but the key to losing weight and/or maintaining a healthy weight is being more conscious and careful about what you eat. There’s really no way around that.

Anyway, I found this article inspirational and thought it was truly a testament to what can be accomplished through a real commitment to making healthy lifestyle changes.  Check it out:

8 Amazing Blogger Weight-Loss Transformations

Spotlight On: Quiona

Stole this photo from OrganicJar.com

This may look like rice or something, but it’s not, it’s quinoa! What is quinoa? Well, that’s where it gets a little fuzzy. You see, it’s generally thought to be a grain, but according to The World’s Healthiest Foods website, it’s actually related to leafy green vegetables. Who would have thought?

Anyhow, a few days ago a friend of mine asked about different quinoa recipes and it got me to thinking how much I missed quinoa. I used to eat it a lot, but the last time I ran out it took me forever to restock. But alas, not too long ago I remembered to pick some up while I was at Trader Joe’s. I just so happened to decide to make quinoa stuffed bell peppers for lunch on Friday. I didn’t have any specific recipe, but I bought a soy chorizo (also from Trader Joe’s) and I knew that it would give the quinoa a good flavor.

So I just sautéed garlic, onion, minced carrot and diced green bell pepper then added the soy chorizo. While that was cooking, I cooked the quinoa.  Even though it is actually related to leafy vegetables, people think it’s a grain cause it acts a lot like rice. So I cook it the same way I cook rice (which is on the stove since I don’t have a rice cooker), except I use veggie broth instead of water to give it a little more flavor. Once the quinoa was done, I added it to the soy chorizo and sautéed vegetables and threw in a few chopped Roma tomatoes. After cooking everything together long enough for all the flavors to mix, I just spooned it all into a bell pepper that had been steaming while I was preparing everything else. I must say it turned out pretty darn good. That was lunch on Friday.

For dinner on Saturday, I made roasted vegetable over quinoa. The night before, I tried a roasted eggplant recipe that was delicious so I wanted to try without using a recipe. Instead of using olive oil, garlic and basil like I did for the eggplant recipe, I mixed garlic, lemon juice and Italian seasoning then poured it over the left over eggplant, a few Roma tomatoes, green bell pepper and stuck it into the broiler. I cooked it for a few minutes then flipped the eggplant around and cooked it for a little longer. While everything was in the broiler, I cooked quinoa seasoned with a little Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash. Once it was all done, I put it in the bowl. The veggies were a little too lemony and wouldn’t have been that good on their own, but quinoa tempered the lemon and soaked up some of the juices from the tomato so it worked out well together.

Then today, I made a pecan quinoa and had it with French style green beans for my mid-evening snack. The pecan quinoa was a recipe that I saw in one of my food books. It was pretty simple and straight forward. I just sautéed garlic then added quinoa, veggie broth, chopped up parsley, white pepper and pecans and cooked it until I didn’t see too many little white spots in the middle of the quinoa (if you’ve cooked it before you know what I’m talking about).  I just steamed the green beans and seasoned them with various Mrs. Dash flavors, some white pepper and a little Himalayan pink salt (more minerals than table salt).

So that was my weekend with quinoa. I’d say me and quinoa had a good time. As a side note, my mom loves this stuff. Every time she and I have a conversation about food, she brings up quinoa and how much she likes it. And with good reason. I think I’ve read that it’s the only non-animal complete protein. It’s also a good source of other good stuff.

See?

If you’re interested in trying quinoa out, you can try substituting it in any recipe that uses rice or you can try one of the suggestions on SavvyVegetarian.com

Happy Eating!

Story Time (or What Happened to Your Weigh-Ins?)

Once upon a time there was a girl, rather a young woman. After graduating college and entering the working world, this young woman realized that she no longer had to live on a diet of Top Ramen and Hamburger Helper, canned green beans and Carls Jr. So she set out on a journey to obtain a seemingly elusive “healthy lifestyle.” Influenced by a number of people along the way, she realized that it was possible to reach this goal of healthy living.

Continue reading “Story Time (or What Happened to Your Weigh-Ins?)”