Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Transformation Tuesday - Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"

Let's face it, if you are like me and have tried cauliflower rice or mashed potatoes, they aren't the same.

This recipe is no different ... you aren't going to fool anyone who loves mashed potatoes.

However, if you are like me and don't really want to spend your precious yellow containers (the 1/2 cup container for starches) on mashed potatoes ... listen up! Cause this is mostly green! I love finding ways to sneak those greens in.

I felt like the mashed cauliflower idea had merit ... I don't hate cauliflower. But I kept thinking there had to be something I could do to improve the texture. Even using my Vitamix it came out a bit on the gritty side.

Well, never fear dear friends because I think I found a solution! You may not pull the potato skin over anyones eyes but this recipe has come out tasty and creamy for me. Last week I paired it with a simple crock-pot roast. I'm not really a "meat and potatoes" girl, but this was a nice substitute.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed
1 blue container of parmesan cheese (actually I used Romano, it has a stronger flavor)
1 red container of cottage cheese (this is the trick my friends, a nice neutral-flavored creamy protein!)
1 clove of garlic (the first time I did two and hubby said it was too much - if you love garlic go for it)
Sea salt & pepper

You can add a splash of unsweetened plain almond milk to get it going if you have trouble.

I threw the cauliflower in first and pureed it until smooth, then the parmesan, then the garlic, then the cottage cheese. I haven't tried this in any other machine but the Vitamix whips it nicely smooth.

Couldn't do THAT again if I tried!

How much it makes will really depend on the size of your cauliflower. Generally it is going to make 4 servings which count for 1 green, 1/4 blue, and 1/4 red each!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word - Monday: Goodness


Perhaps this is more what you expected, as did I, last week until God revealed more about what the kindness in Galations really means. Goodness.

Goodness in Galations is listed as a fruit of the Spirit, in Ephesians it is listed as fruit of the light. This kind of goodness is from the Lord ... the Holy Spirit ... the Father of Lights.

Think of someone you know, Christian or not, who does good. Hopefully your life has been blessed in such a way that you can think of more than one. Then see what Jesus has to say:

Then realize that the Bible says only One is good. The Psalms exalt in worshipful prose repeatedly the that Lord is good. Anything good, even if seemingly from an earth-bound source, is ultimately from the Lord. He can use the Christian and the Buddhist, the atheist and the polytheist alike to bring good to those for whom it serves His purposes. His good purposes.

Nothing that is good is from us. For the believer this may be old news, but that is a little hard to swallow when you want a pat on the back, recognition, or even just karma for having done something good. We cannot produce good.

Yet the Bible admonishes us to do good. Hence the gift of a Helper, the Holy Spirit. We can bear good fruit, good works, when we allow the Holy Spirit to move through us. The only way we can do good is to be allied with the Spirit and be about the Lord's work.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Freestyle Friday - In Sickness and In Health

This week we've had a little bug run through our family, and it has me thinking about sickness. Don't worry, it was a very brief and mild fever without much in the way of symptoms. But it got me to thinking.

I wonder what kind of sickness each of us pictures when we say our wedding vows? I suppose more people use non-traditional vows anymore, but you know the line I'm talking about in its seemingly infinite variation.

for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part

It is easy to picture ourselves standing by our mate through a cold, maybe even the flu. Perhaps for some it is even easy for us to imagine if something more sinister, more permanent, more deadly were to happen. Some movies and novels have even almost romanticized the notion of seeing your mate through something hard to the end ... whatever end that may be (The Notebook, Return to Me?).

Reality is a lot less romantic than a movie. That glance in the middle of the night that says "Do you want to go or do you want me to?" Keeping your cool when your mate sleepily mumbles something about an early start when he hears a child for the first time at 4am, and you've been up nursing them for 45 minutes every hour since before you stumbled to the bed where they were already snoring softly.

Serving one another wordlessly in the dark of the night over a pile of sheets that must go in the wash... because if they don't, and she throws up again, there will be no more sheets.

Your strong and able mate suddenly struck in their prime with something the doctors can't explain but which has stolen their stamina, strength, and disposition. You don't even have a name to lash out at or fight against. Do you turn on your mate instead?

What about mental illness? How it always bothered me that Mr. Rochester was already married to Bertha Mason and it more recently bothered me that Michael Gregson moved to another country in order to divorce his insane wife. I can only hope that if I lose my mind Tim will put up with me. I actually think he would. He does pretty well in my temporary lapses of sanity. But there are mental illnesses that are just as devastating that aren't as dramatic as locking your spouse in the attic or an asylum.

Sickness of spirit. What if the sickness threatening to tear your marriage apart is spiritual; a battle between God's good and the enemy's evil? When the door is opened to walk away even by legalistic Biblical standards ... what do you do? Will you listen to God and your heart when instead of pats on the back and sympathy others recoil with horror and disbelief in their eyes?

As I ponder raising two girls and watch them begin to pretend to be brides and princesses, I want to be a counter culture. I'm not against Disney. But I want their feet to be shod in the swiftness of the Gospel, I want their heads sealed with a crown bearing the seal of the King of Kings, I want their beautiful gowns to be pure and clean and befitting the bride of His Son.

I want them to look on their future husband with love, not only foggy and sparkling kind on the glossy pages of their wedding album (though there is a place for that), but through the lens of a servant who only thinks of serving her King by loving her husband even when washing his feet means getting her hands dirty.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

As a Deer Pants - Thirsty Thursday: Kindness Continued

Monday I wrote about kindness as a fruit of the Spirit.

Today I want to talk more about societal kindness.

When I dug into kindness for Monday's blog, I started out thinking it was just being nice to others. Doing favors for others. Pay it forward. I mentioned Monday that I wasn't discounting those things or excusing Christians from these profitable practices.

But today I want to contrast what I perceive kindness has come to mean in our society. Monday I shared the dictionary definition of kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

In the end, these are all about how the receiving party feels. While useful goodness from the Holy Spirit may often be uncomfortable, the culture we live in seems almost to define kindness as "not making me uncomfortable."

The Holy Spirit would not bear fruit that is contrary to God's commands. God would not have us stand up to sin and have that cause us to be fruitless. Sometimes our unmovable Spirit may be a kindness to the world even if the world rejects it and calls it hatred.

All this thinking about the contrast between God's definition of kindness and our own gave me something of a revelation. Heated debates rage on a weekly basis on social media between Christians standing up for their beliefs and a world wanting everyone to "be kind" ... don't make me uncomfortable, don't tell me I'm sinful ... swallow your so-called truth and just be loving because I heard God is the God of love. That means you have to be nice to me.

In the end, I don't think Christianity in America will fall and face true persecution when someone says to us "Renounce Christ or die." At least, not at first. That is too obvious, too black-and-white. I'm afraid it will go something more like this:

Judge: You have been accused of hate. Hate is a crime. How do you plead?

Christian: Not guilty.

Judge: Then answer this question for me ... do you consider [fill-in-the-blank] to be a sin?

Christian: Yes I do; the Bible is clear about that. [You may even be able to cite verses].

Judge: Your refusal to accept the segment of society that practice [fill-in-the-blank] is hatred. Do you not realize that unless you accept that [fill-in-the-blank] is NOT a sin, and stop telling people such, that you are guilty of a hate crime, punishable by imprisonment? You are basing your freedom on a concept from a book that has been determined by all three branches of government to be hate paraphanlia. I will ask you one more time, and I ask you to carefully consider what your answer will cost you; do you believe [fill-in-the-blank] to be a sin? And as such for the so-called sinner to deserve death unless they accept the concepts outlined in the hateful Bible?

Christian: I not only believe [fill-in-the-blank] to be true but I know that the Holy God, being Holy, must follow through with the punishment for sin if the sinner has not accepted Christ's sacrifice!

Courtroom: Uproar, yelling, anger ...

Judge: [pounding gavel] Based on the evidence of your hate crimes and your own confession, the jury will now determine your sentencing ...

Why do I paint such a dour picture of our country? Because it was given to me. It seems surprisingly feasible if the current trends continue. Because God's kindness here is a righteous kindness, not what we have defined as kindness.

While researching the word kindness, I found a fascinating tool by Google where you can see trends of words as a percentage of available writings over the years. Kindness is seeing a resurgence of popularity in English writing. But be careful before you lump the fruit of the Holy Spirit in with the fruit of our culture. I doubt the slight kindness upswing in the last 10 years of this graph is quite the same as useful goodness.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What Shelby Said Wednesday - Ya Big Baby ... Pilgrim

Once again, Victoria is taking over today!

Tori loves babies, and she loves to hug things ... babies, videos of lions, the Bible when there is a picture of a baby, her momma when she can sense I'm upset about something.

So last Wednesday we went out for a friend's graduation celebration to a restaurant. Victoria had been playing on the playground and came to sit with me and grab a bite to eat.

Suddenly she looked over my shoulder.

Victoria: Eees that? (What is that?)

Mommy: That's John Wayne (*it was one of those life-sized cardboard stand-ups of The Duke).

Victoria: Big baby!

Mommy: Most people consider John Wayne to be very tough, I'm not sure he'd appreciate being called a big baby!

Victoria: I hug?

Maybe John Wayne was just a big baby who needed a hug. It was of the most typical picture you see of him, probably what you pictured when you first read his name. The look on his face is a bit sour.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Transformation Tuesday - Country Heat

I'm So, Autumn Calabrese has a new workout series being released this summer called Country Heat. Frankly - I'm cheesy over it. I've had a love-hate relationship with country music, but I never considered working out to country music! That just sounds like fun! And it's Autumn so I know it'll be good!

I love lifting, but sometimes you need to change things up. I'm thinking about trying the 22 Minute Hard Corps at some point too. I mean ... it's 22 minutes?!?! And it sounds like it is still very effective despite being short! AND there is a buddy exercise! Tim and I have been working out together so I would LOVE to try that!

Anyways, I was inspired by Country Heat and Sonic to try a new addition to my Shakeology. I'm LOVING the vegan chocolate by the way! My tummy likes it even better than the regular chocolate, and the flavor is richer and less sweet.

If you ever eat (or drink) at Sonic, you've probably seen how they do all these crazy flavors of shakes? We really liked the jalapeño chocolate one (when they made it right ... Some of them tasted like they made the shake, then dumped canned jalapeños in the bottom of the cup).

We had a jalapeño sitting on the counter and it hit me ... jalapeño chocolate Shakeology!

My first attempt was lackluster. I started a typical breakfast ... lots of fresh baby spinach, a scoop of vegan chocolate Shakeology, and 8 ounces of water. Then I dropped in half a jalapeño (with the seeds and membranes removed). I tasted it, yummy spiciness we may have a winner! Then added my fairly typical half a frozen banana and some ice and blended it till smooth. Apparently banana cancels out jalapeño? I could taste the flavor some but the heat was gone.

So the next morning I left out the banana. If you like a little heat with your sweet or are a bit of a daredevil, I highly recommend it!

"Country Heat" Shakeology
1 scoop vegan chocolate Shakeology
8 -10oz water (or unsweetened vanilla almond milk, I actually did 6oz water and 4oz almond milk)
1-2 green containers of baby spinach
1/2 fresh jalapeño (remove seeds and membranes!)

Blend until liquified, then add ice until desired consistency. More ice = less spice though!

I really want to hear from you if you try it! Or put your own spin on it!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word - Monday: Kindness

Kindness. That seems like a simple enough concept, doesn't it? It did to me.

Until I started digging into God's Word. Kindness took on a depth and fleshed out and became more than just a word for being nice to people.

How would you define kindness? I often ask the girls to be kind to one another. Don't hit your sister, don't take things from her, don't pull her hair, help her, share with her ... of course all those things are a type of kindness.

I finally looked up the dictionary definition of kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Before I continue please know I do believe Christians filled with the Holy Spirit should exude these things! However ... I've run into a bit of a problem.

The Greek word in Galations used for kindness is "chrestotes" or "xrestotes" depending on your reference (Englishman's/Strongs/HELPS Word-studies). There isn't actually an English word for this type of kindness, which HELPS defines as useful/profitable ... useful goodness. What is really needed.

I'm going to talk more Thursday about what it seems our society deems kindness. Today, since my focus for Monday is the fruit of the Spirit, focus on the kindness we bear as fruit when we have the Holy Spirit.

What is useful and proper isn't always what is comfortable. As the Psalmist says, sometimes a kindness is a timely reproach. Being reproached is unpleasant, especially at first. But it is often what is needed. A loving reproach delivered appropriately is oil upon the head. Cleansing. Healing. Only the Holy Spirit can move us in that way.

In Romans, amid the discussion of the vine (Jesus Christ) and the branches, God's kindness appears right next to His severity. I would argue that God's kindness is always useful. But pairing it with His severity reminds us He is Holy and cannot, will not, overlook sin that has not been covered by Jesus' blood. He is kind in that He made a way for us. It would not be kind to allow us to do whatever we want and reject His son's sacrifice and still choose to overlook sin that has a price: death.

Some modern Christians, leaders and laymen alike, would have us believe God being loving and kind means that everything is daisies and roses and that He has no malice toward anyone. But if we are cloaked in sin and darkness that is what He sees. His kindness is that He saw us at our worst and instead of rejecting us outright He, being tolerant and patient, made a way for us.

We make light of the way He made when we say He is a cruel God for punishing sin. Yes, He does and will require payment for sin. He has to. He is righteous and Holy and light and no darkness can remain in His presence. Do you make light of the kindness He has extended to us? Rather than wiping us out for our sin, He gave us a chance. The choice to reject that kindness is on our own shoulders; not His.