goodreads

have you checked out goodreads?  this fantastic site & app lets you create your personal reader profile, keep track of what you’ve read, organize  your books into virtual bookshelves, rate books, recommend books, and invite friends to share ideas and see what they are reading.  you can even join a book club to discuss your favorites.  very cool.  check it out for yourself and stay current with all my reads using the goodreads button on the blog.  happy reading!

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perspective

okay.  hubby and i don’t normally get into lent.  sure, we always think that it is a nice notion.  we applaud the self-control of others.  we might even say things like “we should” or “next year”.  but, that is pretty much the extend of our involvement.  because we have failed to participate in the past, lent isn’t exactly circled on our calendar.  in fact, this year, we were about 6 days in when we finally said “oh, it’s lent”.  oops.  however, this year, we didn’t simply shrug our shoulders and go about our business.  we decided to jump in.  [better late than never, right?] and we decided to start with something basic.  this year, ben and i resolved to give up sugar. now this is a tough one for me.  i love desserts.  i love candy.  i love chocolate.  milkshakes.  gummy bears.  ice cream.  if it is sweet, i have a tough time abstaining.  but not this time.  this time, we are doing it.  we might have gotten off to a late start, but we are in it now.  no more sugar!  i know it is a little thing, but it feels big.  while sugar is a tiny sacrifice compared to others, i still feel that very real pull every time i walk by the ice cream aisle or candy bins or when i am handed the dessert menu at a restaurant. however, this seemingly small sacrifice has prompted much contemplation about real sacrifice.

during my online wanderings, i headed over to the güngör websiteand i am so glad that i did.  for there, staring back at me on the screen, was a thought-provoking blog entry about sacrifice, lent, and perspective.  so meaningful and true.  what a great reminder.  this helped to renew my mind and i hope that it does the same for you as well.

Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to really see the beauty of something.  From the ledge of the Grand Canyon, Beauty shines bright as the sun.  She wears a dress of granite and sky with sparkling shoes made of rushing river.  Her eyes shine bright as the sunbeams shade the giant cliffs and valleys with color and shadow, revealing scope and texture.  Her hair smells like wildflowers in the crisp desert wind.  It’s difficult to stand on the ledge of the Grand Canyon and not notice her blinding presence.

But if you hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and lay prostrate with your face against the rocky floor, you may notice that your awareness of her will soon begin to wane.   You may find that all you see down there is rock.  Maybe some dirt or a crawling bug.  These are the threads of her dress, but up close, it’s easy to lose her essence in the details.

I find this to be true of art.

Art is not created in ivory towers or scenic overlooks.  The actual creation of beauty happens down into the valley with the dirt and the bugs.  Art is created with blistered hands and stained clothes.  The true artist treats each thread with the same care that she has for the whole dress.  But down in the dirt, it is easy to lose perspective over time.   It’s easy to start seeing rock rather than canyon, thread rather than dress–easy to be so focused on the single word in the lyric, that you can lose sight of the song, of why you even make music in the first place.

It is easy for the student to forget why she is in school at all.  She is lost in term papers and quizzes, but loses perspective of what it means to be human in the blur of her frantic motion, and her experience as a student is limited by her narrowed perspective.

It’s easy for the dad to forget that in changing diapers and scrubbing dishes, he may very well be ushering the Kingdom of God into the world.

Sometimes it is good to step back and remember the bigger picture.  I think that this has something to do with what Lent is about.  It’s about remembering who we are and why are here.  Lent is hiking up to the ledge again.  It’s reminding us of our humanity again.  We paint crosses of ash on our foreheads to remind us that we come from dust and to dust we shall return.  We give up things we like as a way of taking a step back from the blur and chaos of our lives, taking a clean look at what we have set our hands to, gathering strength for another day of work in the valley.

So to all of us with weary and blistered fingers, I pray that we would find the strength to take a step back–to hike back up to the ledge again and remember the bigger picture of who we are and why we do what we do.  We are sewing a dress—a  dress that is the essence of goodness and beauty.  It is like a Kingdom.  It’s like a wedding dress.  And when we remember this, may it fill us with courage to take a few deep breaths of that crisp desert air and descend once more into the valley where the work gets done.

soli deo gloria

snaps & snippets & blurbs

this was an especially delightful weekend.  here are some selected snaps.

 starting weekend a few hours early.  there’s nothing better than leaving work early on a friday! + hubby & happiness + the buddies savoring the rare extra minutes of lap time in the afternoon + bringing out my springtime bag for date night + heading out for a double date with friends…plus their sweet little girl + yup.  true food.  again + eco-chic design elements + the lively atmosphere + dinner with friends plus miss marley…who was such a sweetheart enjoying her iPad entertainment [a fabulous restaurant lifesaver for parents, by the way] + our tablescape: menu, iPad, puffed snacks, and playthings + local veggie crudités + bison burger with parm and mushrooms with sides of kale salad and hash + a post-dinner stroll with the stroller + saturday morning tradition – coffee from matador coffee roasters + charlie faces & coco faces during a lazy day + spinning some them crooked vultures on penelope while making dinner + just a little something ben whipped up:  burgers with hatch chiles and cheddar and bacon, spicy sweet potato wedges, harissa ketchup.  my hubby is quite the guy [and yes, that makes two nights in a row of burgers] + traditional harpsichord meets the modern iPad.  now that’s my kind of blended church service.  another reason why i love cbc + eye spy, with my little eye…a charlie!  taking the buddies on a little car ride to visit my dad with charlie eagerly awaiting our arrival in the backseat +  a perfect arizona day + some post-church lunch with dad at the greene house + chatting and eating some goo-ood food together + hearing about dad’s life while mom is away visiting grandma in the great white north + miss sadie may – the ridley beagle + hanging out with the buddies + charlie, keeping an eye on things for us.  he is such a good guard dog + finishing up the weekend with some couch time, tea sipping, and family cuddles

see you soon, dear weekend

the saturday evening post

a very happy saturday to you.  and a very merry unbirthday to you as well.  it is simply glorious outside!  i can feel a spring in my step because spring is in the air.  we are only a few short weeks from the official start of the new season and i am ready!  in addition to some outdoor and culinary pursuits…i am hoping to tackle my closet and begin the seasonal switchover this weekend.  i will be saying toodle-oo to my tweed and wool and welcoming bright colors, lighter fabrics, and even some floral prints.  farewell warm wardrobe, you have served me well.  but, the time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things – of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.  it has been too long, spring fashion pieces.  too long, indeed.  welcome back to my closet, my fantastic friends.  how i have missed you.

what a lovely time of year!  it almost makes one feel giddy.  while i do enjoy the cooler air, i am ready for the warmth to return.  but please, arizona, not too hot.  keep it pleasantly tepid for a while.  none of that hundred degree nonsense.  don’t let’s be silly.

so here’s to a weekend filled with laughter, family, friends, food, fresh groceries, a spot of tea, spring-cleaning, relaxation, and a dash of silliness.

* for some reason i was in a lewis carroll, alice in wonderland sort of mood during the writing of this post.  it just happened.  [i suppose this is that dash of silliness that i mentioned]

spice up your life

hubby and i like to cook at home.  yes, we do have fun on date nights on the weekend…but mostly, we enjoy creating meals from scratch in our own kitchen.  we plan out the week of recipes and then search the markets for interesting ingredients.  we have our staples, sure.  but we also like to try new things.  and we love flavor and spice.

in fact, we always add a dash [or two] of herbs and spices to every dish we make.  basil, chili powder, cumin, coriander, dill, fresh ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage, thyme, and tumeric.  whatever it takes to make the dish sing.

i guess my southwestern livin’ has been really inspiring me because lately, i have been loving all things spicy.  hubby and i have been consuming a lot of hatch chiles and peppers.  yum.  my personal favorites?

ben’s spicy pepper black beans with quinoa

a favorite snack – crave canyon’s [local company!] hatch chile and aged cheddar popcorn

fresh chile nachos with habanero salsa

vosages [sugar free!] chocolate with peppers and cinnamon

hubby’s homemade roasted pepper salsa

pita jungle’s chicken del sol with plenty of warmth and heat from cumin and peppers

hubby’s a.maze.ing. huevos rancheros with chorizo beans and smoky salsa

lush burger’s hatch chile burger with pepperjack cheese

eggs with chile and chipotle crumble [and cheese, of course]

take some time this weekend to get creative, enjoy some meals at home, and add some spice to your life.

anything you can do…the annie oakley syndrome

anything you can do, i can do better.  i can do anything better than you.  no, you can’t. yes, i can. no, you can’t. yes, i can. no, you can’t. yes, i can, yes, i can!

annie get your gun

and that’s not all.  annie goes on to sing a laundry list of things that she can do better…

  • she is greater than you
  • she can sing anything higher than you
  • she can say anything softer than you
  • she can hold any note longer than you
  • she can say anything faster than you
  • she can sing anything sweeter than you
  • in what you wear she’d look better than you
  • she can even buy anything cheaper than you…

doesn’t it feel like sometimes, we are all secretly [or perhaps, more blatantly] singing this song to one another?  constantly one-upping and competing and comparing.  yuck.  how often do i pull an annie oakley?  what is this need to be better than everyone?  why am i competing?  why do i compare myself to others?  a pretty pathetic state of things if you ask me.

and i think that this syndrome can be especially true of women.  sometimes it is as visible as an overt assault and sometimes it is veiled by a toss of the hair, an extra coat of pink gloss, or a backhanded compliment.

we set the stage and put ourselves on display in a real-life pageant of sorts [more like three ring circus or cage match].  welcome to…the who is better show!  it is caddy and absurd.  fighting it out over who has the best wardrobe.  who has the prettiest hair.  who has the biggest house.  who has the greatest career.  who has the cutest children.  who has the sweeter voice.  and yes, even who thrift store shops better.  [i can buy anything cheaper than you]  it isn’t just about looking great,  it is about looking greater than you.  we hold up mirrors and yardsticks and scales and bank statements to compare and see who comes out on top.  these blatant comparisons and competitions eat away at our relationships.  and, they eat away at our contentment.

what’s worse?  the quiet comparisons.  the ones you say to yourself and keep tucked away in your mind.  the ones that eat away at you.  the deadly comparisons that make you feel less than and unworthy. you know.  the ones that sound like…look what she is wearing, i wish i could pull that off.  i wish my skin looked like that.  if only i had her curly hair.  if only i had her straight hair.  everything always works out for her.  she gets to stay at home with her children.  she gets to go to work and engage in meaningful pursuits.  i wish i could cook like her.  i wish i had her metabolism.  ashes, ashes, we all fall down. 

the world is ripe with opportunities to compare and compete.  why do i engage?  even if i do win in one of the aforementioned categories, that fleeting joy will soon be overshadowed by the misery and disappointment of losing in the others.  what a mess.  and yes, we all fall down.

truly, i should never ever strive to be “better than you”.  and in reality, most of time i am just competing with myself.  my concocted ideas about what i think i should be and what others think i should be.  this just leads to more comparison and competition and discontentment.  the only thing that i should be striving for is holiness.  to image Christ more and more.  to grow in my likeness to Him.  if i am going to look to anything as my model for life, let it be Christ.  i should only press on and strive for the heavenly prize.  a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.  who cares about what others have and do.  i need to fix my gaze on Christ so that i begin to reflect more of His beauty.  less time looking in the mirror – more time looking at His Word.  less time focusing on others – more time focusing on His mercies and grace and shekinah glory.  less time competing with others – more time allowing Him to shape my life.  less time comparing – more time contemplating my own actions.  as my pastor used to say…God has given each of us a bag.  a bag with contents uniquely purposed for you.  an assortment of talents and graces and blessings.  each one a good gift given by the Father above.  we must learn to use what God has given us.  and, to keep our noses in our own bag.

here’s to not being nosey or sticking our nose up at others.