What?

 

“You lost it? You’re kidding,” she said, losing composure.

“It must have slipped off,” he whispered. “I had it when I went in the office washroom.”

“You took it off for her! That tramp! Is that what you think of our marriage?”

My Journey of Faith

 

If you were a fly on the wall of my church, you might think that the people worshipping there have been going to church their entire lives, that they have it all together. Of course, Little Fly, if you followed any one of these church members home, you would see a different story for every person. Everyone has a faith journey that is unique.

Let me back up a little, and tell you what my church is. I belong to a church that is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA). That means that it is a Christian protestant church (as opposed to Catholic), and has a presbyterian form of government. It is run by presbyters, i.e., ruling and teaching elders. The teaching elders are the pastors, and the ruling elders are the people in charge of all the workings of the church, like maintaining the church, organizing  missions, making sure there are enough Sunday school teachers, etc. A Presbyterian church may also have a group of people called deacons who are in charge of congregational care.

I’m telling you all of this, Little Fly, because in January, I’m going to be ordained as a deacon, and in a week, we have our “examination” to see if we’re ready to serve. Thankfully, our exam is not a test on the Book of Order (our constitution), but instead we present our faith journey. I’m practicing mine here to see how it flies (no pun intended).

I grew up with a family that was Presbyterian in appearance only. I was baptized as a baby, went to Sunday school for maybe a year or two when I was 5 or 6, and had my confirmation (became a big girl member) when I was 13. Nothing much else in between. There was no real showing up. We did celebrate Christmas and Easter, not by going to church, but by wearing cute dresses, unwrapping presents and hunting eggs.

By my adolescence, it was clear that my dad worshipped the God of beautiful nature and the sky, but did not believe in organized religion. I think my mom just didn’t go to church. After my parents divorced, she went through a Bible church phase, but now goes to a regular ol’ Presbyterian church. My sister belongs to a church that we call a cult, but she seems happy, and can leave whenever she wants, so there’s that. She and her family are super conservative. We do not talk about religion at family gatherings.

I didn’t start regularly going to church until I had my first child. I wanted her baptized, and I thought when you had kids you were supposed to go to church. I had no foundation for that belief, it just seemed like the thing to do, and I made friends there. It was a way out of the isolation of being a stay-at-home mom. We lived in Europe in the mid-90s and never went to church during that period. Upon our return to the US, Roland and I and the kids all went. I went, not because I believed, but because it was what we did on Sunday morning. The feeling of being a fraud was beginning to work its way to the surface.

Fast forward to about three years ago, when I had a serious crisis of faith. I was going to church and saying all the words, but I began to actually question what I believed instead of just going along with the crowd. I quit going to church with Roland when I couldn’t even say the words or sing the hymns. In April 2014, I returned to church. Why, suddenly, that happened isn’t important; it is only important that it did. For the first time in my life, I opened my heart and surrendered to faith. That fall, we heard sermons on forgiveness and the light bulb finally lit. I had never been taught that forgiveness was anything like what was described in the sermons. In fact, growing up, I was taught that if you made a mistake or did something wrong, you said you were sorry and moved on. Lots of judgment, no guarantee of forgiveness by anyone, much less God. I was ready to hear about that forgiveness and mercy, and apply it to my life.

And it’s gone on from there. Between our pastor encouraging us to “show up”, and the shame researcher, Brene Brown, and her books saying the same thing (and in the opposite of a shameful way in case you don’t know about her), I began to show up more and more, and not just in church.

I’ve always scoffed at the term “born again”, but after forgiving my dad for killing himself, forgiving myself for a ton of stuff, and forgiving a few more, that’s how I feel. Like a new person. With a journey that brings God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost and faith all along for the ride.

Disclaimer: The post above is about religion. My religion and my faith. I realize that religion can be an inflammatory topic (I don’t talk about it with my relatives). My purpose is not to inflame, but rather to share how I came to have my perspective on the world.

Crush

Burning through the depths of my soul,

Your poisonous presence so toxic

Triggers emotions that torment and crush.

 

As my heart threatens to implode, crush;

A bright, tiny ember in my soul

Flickers and flames to fight the toxic

 

You.  The shining torch rising against you, toxic

creature, filled with lies meant to crush;

So powerful now is the rage within my soul.

 

Desire glowing, oh my soul, threatened no more from the toxic, my lips long for other lips to crush.

An example of a this month’s poetry slam style, the tritina.

Best Soup Ever

I would first like to note that this is in no way, shape or form a cooking blog. I am a competent cook, but I find cooking really gets in the way of things that I want to do. I’ve been known to get annoyed that my husband finds it necessary to have dinner every night. EVERY night. The nerve.

Still. Every now and then I come across a recipe that is so delicious that I am compelled to share. This Chicken Bacon Wild Rice Soup is one such recipe. Click on the name and you will find the blog from which I originally pinned the recipe. The list of ingredients follows. The ones in red are changes that I made.

  • 1 quart chicken broth (original calls for 3 cans. not a huge change, I just prefer to buy the quart size box o’broth)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup wild rice (here I would like to point out that “wild rice” confuses me. I was brought up with Uncle Ben’s rice mix in a box. Now there are so many choices. This time I bought 2 kinds rice at Whole Foods in their bulk section… and eyeballed the amount. 1 was a pinkish florally kind, and the other was royal purple rice… not its exact name, but I didn’t write that down)
  • ½ cup finely chopped green onion (I used 1 bunch and didn’t measure)
  • smallish carrot pieces (if desired. I added these and would recommend 2-4 carrots depending on how much you like carrots in your soup. Or leave them out. In the picture you are looking at 2 average size carrots.)
IMG_20151205_105634403
Everything but the broth

You dump all of the above in a large saucepan (what I call my Dutch oven), bring it to a boil, reduce heat and cover, cooking until the rice is tender. About 30-45 minutes.

  • ¼ cup butter (original calls for ½ cup butter or marg, and I’m not worried about this being low fat or anything but a ½ cup sounds excessive.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

  • 8 oz package of mushrooms, quartered (my addition. Totally optional)

When the butter is melted, dump in the mushrooms, stirring them around until they look almost done.

  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (original calls for ¾ cup. Seemed excessive)
  • ½ tsp salt (I used Kosher)
  • ½ tsp poultry seasoning.
  • ⅛ tsp pepper (or whatever comes out of the pepper grinder and looks like enough)

Dump the above over the butter/mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms are coated. Real cooks, this is probably not the right way to do it, but it works for me.

  • 2 cups half and half

Gradually stir the half and half into the butter/mushroom/flour mixture, cooking until slightly thickened.

  • cubed or shredded cooked chicken or turkey (not so much a change here as a comment — original calls for 1-½ cups, but that never seems like enough to me. Also, unless you happen to have some leftover chicken or turkey around you will have to cook some. Ahem, that would usually be me. I cooked about 1-½ pounds of boneless chicken breasts by roasting them at 350 deg F for about 30-ish minutes. Use your favorite method of cooking them. Or use some other meat or meat substitute.)
  • 8 slices of bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled. I only had 6 slices this time, and used my favorite method of cooking the bacon — my husband offered, and I said, Sure!
IMG_20151205_121723276
Half and half/mushrooms on left, broth/chicken/bacon and everything else on right

Add the chicken and bacon to the broth/rice/carrot mixture. Add your creamy half and half mix with the yummy mushrooms into the broth/etc mixture, stirring it well. Do not boil.

Stir this every once in a while for at least 30 minutes on low. The longer the soup heats, the more it will thicken. Mine is hanging out in the fridge until we get home from Christmas tree shopping, at which point we will turn on the SEC Championship game, and while it pains me, I will root for Alabama over Florida. When the game starts, I’ll put the soup on the burner to reheat, letting it simmer until about half-time.

I don’t have a huge repertoire of recipes that I use, so this may not be entirely accurate, I passionately believe that this is the best soup ever!

I’m Fine

Lying in my hospital bed, I felt so stupid. “Go to the doctor. Get it checked,” she said. “No, I’m fine. That spot is nothing,” I said. Stubborn. Too busy. Too scared to find out? I thought I was fine. I wasn’t.