Welcome This is my third post in the series of “Know Me” questions inspired by a book study I completed this spring. We started with 18 Things that make me Smile, followed by My Top 5 Spiritual Challenges. Today I will answer the question, what are the important things that make me ME? This followed a great line from the book, Why Her? by Nicki Koziarz, “Live life as only you can, because you are the only you and that’s a beautiful fact.” This is an important truth to remember when I’m looking at the lives of others and wishing for their experiences.
Food For Thought I’m going to begin with a quote from my current read, Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, by Max Lucado: “Your belief system is not concerned with the exterior of the tent but the interior. It is the set of convictions…upon which your faith depends. If your belief system is strong, you will stand. If it is weak, the storm will prevail. Belief always precedes behavior.” I share this quote because what we believe and the important details that make up who we are impacts every behavior and action we make in our lives. Many things contribute to these details, from nature to nurture, and without them we would be a completely different individual. Here are, what I believe, the big twelve details that make up who I am:
1 I am hopelessly, fearlessly in love with my husband! I know he’s not a perfect man, but he is the perfect husband for me. I have always believed, and always will, that God brought us together after I prayed for the right mate for eight years. I take my marriage vows very seriously. I do not make decisions in my life without considering how they will impact my husband. I pray for his safety and health daily, because I cannot imagine living my life without him.
2 I consider being a good mom my number one “job” and priority. I’m not a perfect mom or a “super mom.” But I try my best to meet all of my daughter’s physical and emotional needs. Being a mom is a wonderful experience, and even though I only have one child, it’s still hard work, especially now that she’s a preteen. Missing out on important aspects of her childhood contributed considerably to my burn-out and frustration as a teacher working outside the home. I salute all the moms with multiple children and a full-time job who still seem to be at every event, game, and recital and still keep the home running strong! You are blessed with talents I would have liked to have.
3 I have overcome poverty and mental illness. Every single person in this world will face obstacles of one type or another. Overcoming those obstacles to achieve the life you desire is not easy. But it can be done. I was raised in a household below the poverty line, despite the fact that both of my parents worked…hard. But that was never an excuse to not make education a priority. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I’ve also persevered through depression and anxiety to have a career and family and a “normal” life.
4 Peace and tranquility await on the mountain trail. If my family wants to get me to relax and decompress from the common stresses of everyday life, they try to get me on a mountain trail. It’s not just that I am revived with fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. I actually have spiritual experiences in some of these places. Others may think that sounds a little bit “hippie,” or whatever, but I know what I feel and experience. I can’t always put it into words, either. God can meet us anywhere and everywhere, but sometimes it’s easier to meet us in places when we have no distractions and our mind is clear.
5 I am passionate and have intense emotions. Probably the same things that my husband loves most about me, also drive him the most crazy. I’m not good at being passive. When I feel something, I’m all in. Whether it is jubilation, rather than just happy, or despondency, rather than just sadness, my emotions tend to hit the extremes. No, I do not have a bipolar diagnosis, but these feelings are connected to other areas of my mental health, and they make an impact on how I behave or act on a day to day basis, for better or worse.
6 I am humbly talented. My talents are blessings from the Lord. Even though I have days when I feel, and often state, that I’m not good at anything, when I take an honest look at my life, I realize God has made me quite capable in some areas. I just pray that I am aware of what my talents and skills are and how to best use them for the Lord and His kingdom.
7 I don’t like to do anything part-way. This can be a blessing and a curse. It’s good that I can be dedicated to whatever task I’m facing. On the flip-side, however, I am prone to give up all together, rather than be less than successful at something. My Master’s Degree program is a good example of this behavior. I worked on my advanced education degree when my daughter was a toddler. In addition to being a new mom, working full time, and dealing with health issues, I found I could not be a straight-A, 4.0 GPA student any more, like I was earlier in life. Since I could not be “the best” at this scholarly experience, I gave up altogether. In hindsight, we still don’t regret the decision. We agreed it was more important for me to be a wife, mommy, and classroom teacher with some sanity.
8 I have a deep appreciation for nature. Where many people see hard work and sweat, I see bliss. Where some might see just some running water or a big rock, I see God’s hand in amazing beauty. Where some see storm clouds rolling, I see artwork in the sky. I always wish I could capture it all!
9 I have a deep appreciation for art. I enjoy a wide variety of the arts, whether visual or performing. I love when a person has the talent to communicate through picture or words, whether they are showing a real-life depiction or communicating their emotional state.
10 I have no use for drama from celebrities or people I know. I do not watch “reality television.” I don’t read tabloids or most any magazines. I don’t follow hardly any celebrities or famous people on social media. I don’t get worked up over complete strangers having babies, affairs, weddings, divorces, or other high-drama events. I try very hard not to get sucked into local drama, either. I will likely ignore anyone else’s pleas for drama.
11 I don’t need to have the best of everything. Yes, there are things I wish I had better or more of, but not necessarily what some may think, or even what I once desired. I want a cabin in the mountains, but I’m becoming more and more interested in the tiny house craze. I would like a different vehicle than my current aging transport, but I don’t desire luxury. I’d like a swimming pool, but all I require is a way for my family and I to get cool, nothing too showy. I get my clothes at Kohl’s. I’ve had my hair cut at Great Clips. I get a ton of compliments on my purse from Target. I would rather have my low-end, low-cost items than a life-time of debt and worry about having enough each month. For those who can truly afford the best of everything, it is there right and privilege to choose how they spend their money. But I live in a world of budgets and bill prioritizing, and that’s okay.
12 I spend time with God every single day. This is the most important. This is also something I could not always honestly say, even though I claimed to be a Christian. Who we are is shaped by many things, including events and circumstances we experience. But as a popular quote says, “Don’t just go through your challenges, grow through them.” I like to think this philosophy has shaped who I am today, on July 10, 2018. When I reflect on who I was 18 months ago, I know that I could have completely turned away from my faith in God, blaming Him for letting me go through difficult times and cursing His name for not helping me when I needed it most. The belief system I’ve spent a lifetime growing and rooting my thoughts and actions in would not allow this choice. I am immensely grateful for making the choice to grow closer to God through my journey of difficulty, rather than drift completely away. If my faith grows stronger every day as a result of what I’ve been through, then it is not experiences wasted.
Today’s Recipes I love to enjoy the blessings of the garden during the summer months. It is more economical and healthier to eat what’s in season. In our area that means squash, onions, peppers, baby potatoes, and green beans right now. Summer also means firing up the grill, but grilling doesn’t have to mean meat, although I like that too. Today we have a “mixed grill” of seasonal veggies, served with pita and hummus. I also have a “lighter” version of a brownie recipe.
Mixed Veggie Grill with Pita and Hummus
- 2 lbs baby potatoes
- 3 medium red onions, cut into quarters
- 2 medium squash ( I used one each of zucchini and yellow summer squash), cut into half-inch slices
- 2 large bell peppers, cut into quarters
- 8 oz pkg button mushrooms, halved
- 1 lb fresh green beans, stemmed
- 2-3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 TBS grill seasoning (I like mine with a lot of heat)
- 1/2 lime
- 1 pkg pita bread
- 1 pkg prepared hummus
Prepare grill, aiming for a temperature between 375 and 400 degrees (an alternative is to prepare the vegetables in the oven by roasting at 400 degrees.) Wash and cut vegetables; place in large bowl. Add olive oil and grill seasoning, toss to coat all vegetables. Place vegetables on one or two large sheets of aluminum foil. Squeeze lime juice over the vegetables. Put the vegetables, on foil, on prepared grill and cook 40-45 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Wrap pita breads in foil and place on grill for 5-10 minutes. If cooking in oven, place foil on sheet pan first to prevent drips and messes. Spread some hummus on warmed pita bread and top with some of the grilled vegetables, fold and enjoy. Vegetables are delicious on their own, too, and I eat the potatoes on the side, not in the pita. This is a great meatless meal with the fresh flavors of summer.
“Lighter” Double Dark Chocolate Chunk Brownies
- 4 ounces dark chocolate (A little secret here: I buy the Moser Roth dark chocolate at Aldi, which comes in a 4.4 ounce package in 5 individually wrapped pieces. I use two of the pieces to melt for the batter and chop the remaining pieces to sprinkle on top. I use the 70% dark chocolate for this recipe.)
- 3/4 cup AP flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
- 2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Melt 2 ounces of dark chocolate in microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds.
In large bowl mix dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.
In another bowl whisk together brown sugar with applesauce, sour cream, eggs, and melted chocolate. Combine the brown sugar mixture with the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spread in prepared pan.
Place remaining chocolate in a zip-top bag and break with mallet or rolling pin until you get coarse chunks. Sprinkle chunks over batter. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool and then cut into 12-15 squares.
If you cut into 15 servings, brownies are about 160 calories each, with 7 grams of fat and 25 carbohydrates per serving.