Sunday, February 26, 2012

Psalm 23 [and then some]: The Legit Shepherd.

You know that thing that happens when you read a verse or passage for the however-many-nth-time and you STILL go, "Whoa!" Well, I had one of those moments again. I love them because it shows that God is God of great depth, and the revelation of His word does deep work in our souls.

I was going through a chapter in a book I'm reading called The Good and Beautiful God--specically a chapter on God's generosity. The soul training exercise for that chapter was to meditate on Psalm 23 throughout the course of the week. As I started, I would just recite it as is. A few days went by, and then my meditations on the chapter became a bit fuller--a bit weightier.

Here's what a I got a few days in--my extra somethin' somethin's are in the [ ]'s.

The Lord is my SHEPHERD, I shall not want [because He gives me everything I need];
He makes me lie down in green pastures [because he wants me to REST]
& leads me beside still waters [because He wants me to know His PEACE].
He restores my soul [because only He can do that work in me].
He leads me in the right paths for His name's sake [and because He's a righteous God and cares about my character and my heart].
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil for You [PERFECT LOVE] are with me;
Your rod and your staff comfort me [because I know that you discipline and guide me out of LOVE]/
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies [because You are greater than them and you fight my battles].
You anoint my head with oil [because you KNOW who I am and know my worth].
My cup overflows [because you are a GENEROUS God].
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life [because you watch over me and are after my good],
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever [because You desire a relationship of MUTUAL delight with me].

The whole passage is powerful, but this time around--the line that hit me the hardest was, "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever [because You desire a relationship of MUTUAL delight with me"].
He, the God of the universe, delights in me and is utterly delighted when I delight in Him. If that isn't an overwhelming, hard-to-wrap-your-head-around thought, I'm not sure what is. Amazing, I tell you. His love his amazing. The deeper realization that I know a good and beautiful God is a reminder that I'm forever in a good and beautiful relationship. Talk about generous, right?

P.s. If you have some time, I really recommend the book I'm going through. The main premise of the book is to have us replace the false narratives we live by with Jesus' narratives--replacing our wrong-thinking with freeing truth. The book's even greater if you have some friends you can read through it with.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fail Proof Chicken Soup Recipe

As I was typing in the title for this post, I was brought back to all of those Chicken Soup for the ________ Soul books I used to read when I was in Jr. High--OK, and parts of high school. Do you remember those? There's no point in denying it; I used to really like them--a sucker for heart-string-tuggin' stories. Oddly enough, my memories of all of those include my mom buying them for me from Costco. Random.

Anyways, I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while now. Ever since work's picked up, the stand mixer and the crock pot have kind been put on the back burner (sorry, I couldn't help myself). Dave and his friend went mountain biking today, so I had some time to cook and bake.

I was craving soup, so I went to my go-to recipe. Eating chicken soup always reminds me of eating bowls of it as a kid because it was one of my favorite dishes that my mom would make. Now that I'm a married lady, I've been working on finding a recipe of my own (so that my mom's chicken soup will always be my mom's chicken soup :)). This recipe is SO easy to make, and the sky's the limit as far as what you can to put in it. There's no science to it; it's really a few shakes of this--a few shakes of that. I find myself adding new things almost every time. This is a great use-whatever-i've-got-in-the-fridge (or pantry) recipe.


-1 whole chicken
-1 bay leaf
-64 ounces of low-sodium chicken broth (I always end up adding water to make more broth, so add as much as you need as you go--also a good idea for next-day consumption)
-1 large onion, diced
- 1 leek, cleaned well and sliced (optional)
-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-3 stalks of celery, sliced
-3 carrot, peeled and chopped
-3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
-1 bunch asparagus, chopped
-1 can of kidney beans, drained (you can use whatever beans you enjoy)
-1 can of corn, drained
-1 cup of frozen peas
-lemon or lime wedges
-cumin (a few shakes--so precise, right?)
-dried oregano ("")
-dried thyme ("")

(Again, do not feel as though this is a set-in-stone recipe. It'll taste good even if you don't have everything listed above. Take creative liberties! Some other suggestions: lima beans, diced potatoes, garbanzo beans, green beans, tomatoes, rice, orzo, quinoa, spinach, other greens, etc...)


-Heat the olive oil in the pan. Saute the onions, leeks, carrots, & celery for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Throw in a few shakes of oregano, thyme, and cumin so those spices open up by the heat of the olive oil. Add 1/2 a tsp of salt into the mix (you'll add more later). Throw in the rest of the ingredients into the pot. Bring everything to a boil, and then let it simmer for an hour to an hour and a half (until the chicken is cooked through). Once cooked through, pull the chicken out and shred (I use two forks to get the job done). Once shredded, place the meat back into the pot. At this point, you'll want to taste your soup. Add salt a little bit at a time until you get the flavor you want. To serve, top with some cilantro, a squeeze of lemon or lime into each bowl, and some freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy. Trust me--you will.

P.s. If you're like me and don't have large (5 qt+ dutch oven/pot), you can cut the chicken down to smaller pieces and cook the soup in two pots. You can place the wings & legs into one pot and the rest of the chicken into another. Divvy up the veggies and stock, and you're set. You should be able to combine everything into one large pot once the chicken is shredded.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Celegrieving: A Luchty Update

Oh my goodness! It's been a while; I've been MIA on this blog ever since I started working again. The last blog before this one was a reflection after my first day of class.  Today was the last day of our session (four weeks have FLOWN by); brownies were given, and hugs and goodbyes were exchanged. It was after today's class that I came up with a new word: celegrieving. I'm celebrating a good first run at the ELC, but I'm also grieving the leaving of my first batch of students (I've also been celebrating the fact that I've gotten to teach again and grieving my lack of sleep throughout the last four weeks.)

Here's a brief pictorial synoptic highlight of what we've been up to in the last few weeks:

What Dave did when I was on Amber's bachelorette weekend--he went on a solo wilderness trip in Ojai:
Dave's been itching to take me on a backpacking trip of sorts, so I'm sure there will be pictures of the both of us doing something like this in the near future.

Some shots from an AMAZING trip to San Luis Opisbo with some of Amber's fave gals for her bachelorette trip:

 A seriously good looking bunch, right? Amber's well loved :)
 The bride-to-be and I:

Some of the dishes we've been eating:

green smoothies:

tofu tacos:
stuffed shells:
charbroiled oysters to celebrate our 4th month being married:) :
banh mi: 
so-not-healthy-but-so-good banana chocolate chip walnut bread:

spaghetti squash with homemade sauce:

My students:
The classroom after I got my goodbye hugs:

Some funny/unfortunate classroom blunders:

-I baked brownies for my students. I miscounted, so I didn't realize that when Dave and I ate one, I'd be one short the next day for my students. Luckily, two were willing to share. Whoops.

- Because they were my first bunch, I wanted to write them each a little note of encouragement as a little goodbye memento. I somehow dropped one of my notes at home, so one of my students was left cardless--looks like snail mail is my best bet.

- I left class one day to realize only afterward that the side zipper on my shirt was only half-zipped.
The not-so-fun, but definitely character-growing aspects of my job:

- I had to teach 4 different levels of students in one class, so sometimes I felt like I was losing my marbles. I'm not even sure how I kept my grammar straight while managing all of my students'.

-I look young (and am younger than some teachers and sometimes even younger than some of my students), so my students sometimes see me as a buddy and not an authoritative figure. That can be taxing, but I've learned that communicating honestly with my students helps with that a bit. Building rapport with my students, especially with the demographic I work with, is HUGE.

-I'm learning what it means to be stern...graciously. 

The blessing:

-I have a husband that is so supportive and proud of me, who will sometimes make breakfast for me before work or get up just so I can get a hug before I leave.

-I have to commute quite a ways every day, but at least it's a pretty drive from Camarillo to Santa Barbara.

- A few new students have enrolled for the next session, so I still have a job :)

-The job I've been given is a constant reminder of how our Papa--our Father always wants us to be in a posture of learning. I want to model life-long learning to my students by living that out.

Wow. So thankful.

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