Monday, July 4, 2022

Six.

While running around town the other day, I felt a squeeze of anxiety. "I really like it here," I thought. "What happens when we move?" We own our condo. We have no plans to move. I've moved enough times in my life, though, that it's always a thought. That thought can keep me from being present, though.

“Wherever you are, be all there!" Jim Elliot said (Good Reads, n.d.). Man do I need that reminder! I've been back in Arizona six years, and though I still struggle in lots of life, I can honestly say that I would rather be no place else. Yes, it's hot in the desert. Yes, we get little rain. Yes, the sun is bright. I like most of it, most of the time, though. I want to enjoy it for as long as God allows me to be here.

Post COVID lockdown, we are getting out more. We spent our staycation being tourists in our own town, and it was awesome. We're trying to build trying some new restaurants into our budget. It's good, all good for the most part. I just have to live in the good, enjoy the good, and not let the "What if's?" creep in.

In the latter part of his quote, Jim Elliot is reported to have said. "Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God (Good Reads, n.d.). I believe that where we are now is the will of God. For how long, I don't know, but for now, I am confident about where I am. God brought me back home, and this home is a blessing. I want to enjoy it now, for however long this is my now. To God be the glory!

Reference:

Good Reads. (n.d.). Jim Elliot > Quotes > Quotable Quote. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/12747-wherever-you-are-be-all-there-live-to-the-hilt

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Couple Crafting

Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that I am always looking for ways to date my husband. As a refresher, I believe that dating after marriage is vital to marital health, creating shared enjoyable experiences that strengthen relationship and build a base of good times to draw from when times are hard. We've gotten in to a new thing for dates at home, recently: crafting. Crafting gives us that new experience we seek on dates. It also helps us practice teamwork. When we get done, we have something to show for our work. Win on all fronts! 

Here are a few recent date night craft projects we have tried:

Hand molding: My sister-in-law got us this kit, and we did it on our anniversary. It requires some time and prep, but it's so cool! Plus, it forced us to hold hands for five or more minutes while we waited for the mold to set. That's date night material!


Making a fabric wreath: This required quite a bit of cutting. We had to reckon with exactness versus completion. In the end, we got it done, and we still have it hanging.

Watercolor napkins: Hubby gets credit for this one. It was a fun way to express ourselves individually in a project that we can use together when we host guests.


We are just getting started on couple crafting, with hopefully many more projects to come. Hopefully crafting will keep serving us. If not, I'm sure we'll pursue some other activities. There truly are an infinite amount of ways to value each other and our marriage through dating!


Monday, June 27, 2022

On the Prefix Anti-

"I actually like this ad," my husband said. "You know why?"

Flipping through my mental rolodex, I could only think of one reason, "She says what she's for?"

"Yes. I don't know anything else about her, but I'd actually vote for her." He said.

Picking up the political leaflet and reading through it, I had to agree. Finally! A campaigner who spent time on what mattered instead of mudslinging. It felt like a breath of fresh air.

--

I see a lot these days encouraging me to be anti: anti-abortion, anti-diet, anti-guns, anti-racist, etc. The very prefix "anti" sets me on edge. It brings up my protective parts. It makes me feel like people are my enemies. I don't think that's what it's supposed to do.

The band Casting Crowns has lines in their song, "Jesus, Friend of Sinners," that go:

"Nobody knows what we're for, only what we're against when we judge the wounded

What if we put down our signs, crossed over the lines and love like You did?"

This goes through my mind every time I see another "anti-rhetoric." What if I stopped trying to be "anti" things and instead thought about the actual people and was for them? What if I was for people regardless of their stance on abortion, dieting, guns, homosexuality, race, or whatever the latest thing is? What if I loved people like Jesus instead of trying to shore up my personal stance? I can be as bad as anybody about getting stuck in my own rhetoric.

There is truth, and truth that sets men free (John 8:32). I know it. I believe it. I hope I share it. I don't think I have to be anti- anything or anyone to do so, though.

--

"I actually like her. We don't agree, but I like her."

That's what I'd like people to say about me. I like people to see that I care, even if my stance isn't the same as theirs. Jesus called people up. He called people out. He wasn't against them, though. He was for them, so much that he gave the greatest gift of all, His life, for them. I'm choosing to be for him over being anti- anything else.



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Marriage: Burden and Blessing



My husband and I had a conversation one day about the limiting nature of marriage. We're not upset about it. We just recognize it. The Apostle Paul warns of this in 1 Corinthians 7. The unmarried person is concerned about God's business. The married person is concerned about God's business and their spouse. In essence, the married person has more responsibilities. It is not all bad. It just is.

Biblically speaking, my husband is responsible for me as the head of the household. That is a big responsibility! It is a burden of sorts, but one my husband agreed to take on when we covenanted in marriage. 

From what I read in the Bible, my job is to support my husband and help him thrive and foster. This is a different, but also large responsibility. I can't just think about myself and my needs and desires. I have to think about fulfilling my own needs and desires might affect my husband. I have to think about what my husband needs and desires and if I need to be willing to compromise, or maybe even sacrifice to love and serve him.

Marriage inhibits our social plans, to some extent, that is, if we want a marriage that places God first, and then each other. We can't stay out until all hours of the day or night without thought for how it might affect the other one and their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. We can't spend money indiscriminately without consulting our joint budget. Our marriage doesn't do well when we're apart for a long time. When we prioritize each other, other things, like friendships and our social lives get moved lower down the totem pole.

Marriage is also a blessing, though. It gives us regular companionship. Marriage has its own share of fun and happiness, even if different than when we were single. Marriage doubles our efforts. ("Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor" according to Ecclesiastes 4:9, New International Version). Marriage keeps us accountable, often painfully, but that helps us be more like Christ. Marriage helps us grow. 

Scripture does not definitely say that marriage is right or wrong. It just says how we should treat it once we are in it. Though some parts of marriage are burdensome, we should treat it as a blessing, and steward it as such, for God's honor and glory.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Things I Learned From My Dad


My dad taught me a lot of things. Yes, my mom had a big role in my life, too. Some lessons came more clearly from my dad, though:

1) Chivalry matters. My dad taught me early on that men open doors for ladies as a sign of respect. He even took me for rides in his old car where the passenger door wouldn't open from inside to prove it!

2) Leave the place cleaner than you left it. We never, EVER littered, but when we went out into the forest, Dad encouraged us to clean up after not only ourselves. The place should look better, not worse, for us being there, he taught us.

3) Work hard. I don't ever remember Dad teaching us this directly, but he demonstrated it. In the workplace and at home, he labored hard. There was just no other option for him. His example set a standard for us kids.

4) Reading the Bible is work, but worth it. Dad didn't always like to read, but he would sit down and try to read his Bible every day. He showed us the value of the effort, even though it might have been hard for him at times.

5) Do the right thing. Dad had lots of strong beliefs growing up, and although he could compromise where compromising was appropriate, he would not back down on what mattered. He took some flak for his stances, and sometimes still does. He taught me that doing the right thing is the right thing to do, popular or not.

The Apostle Paul gave dads a strong command in Ephesians. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:10). Dad, you did a good job of that. I am still learning from you, too. Thank you! I love you, and Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

What to Do? What to Do?

We spent the last week having a staycation. We chose the staycation option in part because we wanted to save money for other travel and in part because we wanted to see more of our city. In hindsight, this was a good choice given the crazy travel conditions of summer 2022.

What did we do? Well, we found that we could do far more than we had time or money to do. We wanted this to be somewhat of a rest, so we did not want to pack our days full. We did end up choosing about one activity a day, though, and here are some faves:

The Museum of Musical Instruments: This was the most spendy activity we did, at $20 a ticket. Twenty dollars got us admissions, headsets that gave us a guided tour, and several hours of activity, so it was worth it. We got to see exhibits with costumes and instruments from famous musicians, as well as instruments across the decades from all of the inhabited continents. This is definitely a fascinating experience. If you want to shell out a little more cash, there is a nice cafe on the grounds, too.


Japanese Friendship Garden:A true jewel in the midst of the desert! Set up in a hide-and-seek fashion, you can't see all of the garden at once. A walk around the three and a half acre property reveals many hidden treasures, as well as landscapes to represent the different regions of Japan. Entrance is only $10 and lasts as long as they are open. Next time, we will bring some books, coffee/tea, and snacks and hang out for awhile, as there are many shaded alcoves that give respite from the heat. As a bonus, the mosquito-eating fish in the koi pond make insects no-nuisance.

Rendezvous Cafe: This homestyle cooking joint located in the Mesa City Center is only open Monday through Thursday, 6 am to 3 pm, but it's worth checking out. The prices are very reasonable. The owner is the cook and even gave us some of her seasoning secrets when we raved about her dishes. The steady stream of regulars coming in and out of the restaurant speaks to the quality of it!

Arizona BiltmoreWhile I don't think we could ever afford to stay here, it is free to walk around the grounds. This is a Frank Lloyd Wright property, and the landscaping and architecture are awe-inspiring. Note: Dress up a little so you won't feel so out of place. I didn't get this memo and wore a tank top and yoga pants. Wrong attire, but I enjoyed the experience anyway.

Pinnacle Peak hike: This is a mostly reasonable out-and-back trail that wraps around the picturesque peak in Scottsdale. The 1.75 mile trail is moderate until the last 0.25 mile, marked as strenuous. Once you go down, you must come back up, and it's a bit strenuous. All in all, though, it's worth the hike!


Cornish Pasty Co: An Arizona franchise with British flair, this place is the real deal. The ambiance is dark and lovely. The food is delicious. Service was superb. We're already ready to go back and try more!

--

We've got a list going of local things to enjoy, but this was what we got to of it this time. Maybe we'll have to have another staycation soon, or have to start trying to do more activities on weekends. We are blessed to have so many great areas to explore in the Phoenix metropolis and want to take advantage of all the opportunities we can!


Monday, June 13, 2022

Pepper Jelly Breakfast Pizza

Every once and a while, one of my "experiments" really turns out. In this case, my quest to use up some of the abundant Instant Pot pepper jelly I made Christmas time last year turned into a sweet, savory, and scrumptious breakfast. Move over Egg McMuffin, there's a new handheld breakfast in town!

Ingredients:

6 T warm water
1/4 t sugar
1 t yeast
1 c flour
4 T pepper jelly
2 c frozen pepper and onion blend (thawed)
1 c mozzarella cheese
4 eggs
Ground black pepper
Optional: Seasonings of your choice

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

2. Prepare the pizza dough.

a. Dissolve 1/4 t sugar and 1 t yeast. Let activate for 5-10 minutes.
b. Add sugar, yeast, and water to 1/2 c four. Stir with a wooden spoon.
c. Turn out onto a silicone baking mat and gradually kneed in an additional 1/2 c flour.
d. Form into a ball and let sit for five minutes.

3. Divide the pizza dough into four balls. Roll each ball into a 6 inch circle. Place on a silicone baking mat lined cookie sheet. Roll up the edges of the dough slightly.

4. Brush each dough circle with 1 T pepper jelly.

5. Bake for five minutes.

6. Meanwhile, squeeze out excess moisture from the vegetables using a tea towel.

7. Remove the dough circles from the oven. (Jelly may have boiled over, but this is not a problem.)

8. Mound 1/4 c cheese around the edges of each pizza dough. (Leave the center empty).

9. Divide the vegetables among the four pizzas and arrange on top of the cheese. (Again, leave the center empty.)

10. Crack one egg into the center of each pizza.

11. Top with ground black pepper, plus any other seasonings of your choice. (I used the smoky seasoning from My Vegan Minimalist.)

12. Bake for 10 minutes.

13. Remove from the oven. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

*Dough inspired by Budget Bytes' thin and crispy pizza crust.

*Pizza inspired by Krazy Kitchen Mom's breakfast flatbread with pepper jellySafe Egg's sweet pepper, cheddar, and egg pizza recipe; and The Worktop's individual breakfast pizza by Maya from Treats and Eats