What You Might be Missing

My youngest daughter is a free spirit.  She’ll turn anything—even work—into play! It drives me crazy! When I ask her to do the dishes, she fills the sink with bubbles and makes “shakes” in the dirty cups or spreads the suds around—bubbles on her face, on her arm, on her sister. “Look!” She’ll exclaim with every new creation. I’m not impressed.

It was worse when she was younger.  I would be brushing her hair when suddenly I couldn’t find the hair tie or comb! Frantically, I’d scour the seat or the hair box with one hand, still holding a tuft of hair with the other– “where is it?!”  I’d yell. 

Oh, here. The sought-after accessory would be carefully wound around the brush my child was holding as she mumbled lines from some scene in her head. Oblivious to my agenda–in the span of 10 seconds–she had gotten lost in her imagination. The brush, comb and hair tie were now key players in her kitchen table production! Ugh.

But, if I say I value creativity, why don’t I appreciate my daughter’s creative play? Because the messiness and unpredictability don’t fit into my daily grind.  I have appointments, reports, errands, and bills—I don’t have time for play!

Yet, in the rush to quantify success, perhaps we have discounted the value of creativity which doesn’t manifest in neat and tidy outputs. Creativity is play and work.  It is messy and disorderly. It disrupts norms and laughs at standards. Yet, without creativity, we would have a world full of neat and orderly sameness, uninspired—even if efficient—activity.

In her book Cultivate: A Grace-FIlled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life, Lara Casey describes her daughter slowing down their daily walk to pick up twigs and leaves, “trying to get me to see the beauty and wonder that she was seeing,” but this detour was not on the itinerary. Taking the scenic route delays progress to the destination; but, Casey points out that “God is in the small and unexpected nooks and crannies, if we are willing to unrush our pace to pay attention to what’s growing” (158).

“Harvest work is intentional” she says. It’s “noticing the fruit that God has grown in your life and doing something with it. But if you are rushed, or are constantly distracted by what isn’t growing, you’ll miss it.” (162)

So, what am I missing?

There’s plenty that isn’t growing when I sit down to write, but there’s also fruit that God has grown in my life that has the potential to be food for thought—food that brings life. Too often, instead, I rush past my writing desk–too busy, too distracted or too defeated to consider the potential that’s there. Someone once said that the greatest novels lie dead in the grave because those who would have written them never took time to explore. This can’t be how my story ends. Rather than confine myself to the orderly path, I must take a lesson from my daughter and reconsider creativity.

Of course, it’s easier said than done.

So, what about you? What ideas might you explore if you slowed your pace and paid attention?  What creative venture might you try that you’ve put off because you don’t “have time”? It’s not just the destination that matters. There are lessons and growth that happen along the way.

Let’s not miss them!

Ready to explore creativity? Look out for more on this subject in future posts. In the meantime, get inspired by these creativity sites:

The Creativity Post— a platform dedicated to sharing the very best content on creativity; facilitates dialogue between various disciplines of inquiry 

Creative Thinking— unveils the secrets of creative genius and brings life-changing creative techniques within everyone’s reach

Creativity Portal— host to a wide library of original content and features including prompts, articles, and interviews

Cover photo courtesy of Derek Thomson on Unsplash

How to Have the Best Summer Ever!

Wow, can you believe it? Summer is almost over!

This makes me really sad.  There’s so much about summer that I love—warm days and outdoor activities—swimming, picnicking, music in the park–or cool summer nights chasing fireflies and hanging out late. Perhaps, though, the best part about summer is the food!  It’s been a while since I’ve talked about food, so allow me to take a break from weightier matters for a moment. What is summer, after all, without lemonade, watermelon and ice cream?  How can we let summer get away from us without talking about grilled veggies and barbecue chicken?

What I have for you today are the top three summer foods that I recommend you add to your menu before the cool winds of fall begin to blow! Then, keep reading, because I also have a suggestion for making this the best summer ever–even if it is almost over.

Garlic Dijon-Grilled Veggies (and salmon!)

Photo Credit: Greg Dupree

So, this one is a two-fer.  I was looking for a new way to season my salmon and came across Natasha’s Garlic Dijon recipe.  The salmon was bomb so I thought, why not use the same marinade on my grilled veggies for the 4th of July? Ah! We had fireworks on the grill this year—the veggies were a hit!  So, give it a try—with your salmon and your veggies! Grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms add color and flavor to just about any meal! You can eat them alone or add them to your burger—super delicious!  Have leftovers? Grab a pack of flour tortillas and a jar of salsa and presto! Taco Tuesday! Just add chicken strips and cheese with the grilled veggies.  It’s super easy and so good.

Marinade:

2 Tbsp light olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 garlic cloves pressed

1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

Impossible Burger

So, veggies are good, but this is not your mama’s veggie burger! The Impossible Burger really looks and tastes like meat! Now, with that said, I must add a disclaimer: The Impossible Burger is delicious, but not exactly healthy. According to Cooking Light, it’s not the worst thing to eat, but it’s not the best either. It does have zero cholesterol, but it also has too much saturated fat and sodium to be considered a healthy alternative to beef.  Nonetheless, everybody wants to sink their teeth into a good burger every now and then, so when you do, I recommend that you at least give this one a try! If nothing else, it is an environmentally friendly alternative to meat.

Now let me tell you the secret for making the Impossible really delicious—make it at home!  The Impossible Burger itself doesn’t have much flavor, so if you’ve tried one at a restaurant and didn’t like it, it may be that you didn’t like the way it was prepared. I’ve tried them at a few restaurants, but found that my preparation was the best (of course!)

The frozen burgers are not yet available everywhere, so you’ll have to check around. It just so happens that a market where I live sells them—yay me!

So, if you’re lucky enough to get your hand on a frozen pack, snatch it up! Then, while you’re at it, go ahead and grab an electric smoker. This is the secret. A smoker will take this burger to the next level! Electric smokers run from $50 to $250 and you can find them at hardware stores, sporting goods stores and WalMart. Trust me, it’s worth the investment because a smoker makes everything taste good!

To prepare:  I thawed the burger meat, formed it into patties, then on both sides of each I sprinkled garlic powder, smoked paprika, Goya Adobo all purpose seasoning and a Weber “Kickin’ Chicken” herb blend that I found at Sam’s. We put the burgers in the smoker for about an hour and a half and the smell alone was enough to seal the deal!  After that, I put the burger on a soft bun with mayo, Dijon mustard, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and hello!

Of course, there’s a thousand ways to make a burger—BBQ sauce and cheddar, sautéed onion and mushroom—go crazy! Once that burger comes off the smoker it has such a great flavor and texture! It’s chewy, but not tough—hands down, the best veggie burger I’ve ever tasted.

Instead of this…

Ranier Cherries

And finally, what’s a good meal without dessert?  But my last summer favorite has nothing to do with cooking and everything to do with choices. Ever since my daughter’s birthday party which was followed not long after by the 4th of July, there have been an extraordinary number of sweet treats knocking around my house—specifically candy.  Now, I’m not usually a candy person, but because it’s sitting here in clear glass jars (my fault) I find myself picking up a few M&Ms or grabbing a gumball out of boredom. Next thing I know I’m grabbing a second and a third handful, then I’m left with a tummy ache and a load of regret. Have you been there? So, my first step is to get this stuff out of my house! The clear glass jars are cute, but they have to go. And the next step is to find a suitable replacement. Enter Ranier Cherries—Nature’s Candy. Guys, I’m sure you’ve had cherries before, but have you had Ranier Cherries? These take sweet to a whole ‘nother level! And what I love is that you can sit them out on the counter in a pretty dish like this and feel like you’re eating candy. Don’t you love that they’re good and good for you? Yum!

Try this!

So, how has your summer been?  Have you traveled? Soaked up some sun? Slipped into the silky blue waters of an exotic destination?  Or have you been like me, wound up in work and obligations seemingly missing out on all the fun? It’s easy to miss the beauty and enjoyment that’s right in front of us when we’re distracted by our friends’ vacation photos on Instagram, and it’s tempting to assume we’re the only ones locked in the daily grind with no time, no money or both.

But this doesn’t have to be our story.  I’d say it’s on us to seek out the simple pleasures of life. We can find ways to treat ourselves right where we are!

Use your weekends to explore.

Recently I had a day off and spent several hours just soaking up nature from my back porch! Why not take a walk or bike ride in the park after work? Lace up your sneakers and get in a quick workout while blasting your favorite music.  Check out your local Visitor’s Bureau or Pinterest for “staycation” ideas. It’s all about enjoying the moments wherever you can find them!

The bottom line is, even while we pursue our goals and success, we shouldn’t forgot to also pursue joy. It’s the only way to truly live!

Here’s to a happy summer full of simple pleasures!

Choose Joy!

Are you a foodie like me? Check out my other recipes!

Who Is For You?

I made the mistake of listening to an old voice message today, from someone I thought was a friend. She was responding to a question I had asked in a previous message—a simple request, but it would have required two things: (1) her vested interest in my well-being and (2) her willingness to vouch for my ability. Her response was wordy, but it can be easily summed: no.

She was not for me. 

What surprised me most is that in the past I had supported her, vouched for her, even promoted her. I mean, I wasn’t asking for money or a co-sign on a car loan. It was merely a request to say in public “this is a person you should know; she has potential.”

Even listening to the message after so much time has passed, it still hit me like a bullet. If a friend isn’t for you, who is?

I once asked a “famous” family member a similar question and felt the same sting when she pushed me off. Apparently, rejection is a place and I’ve been there often.

So, my inclination is to turn inward, shut out the world and bury myself in pity. Forget all of them. I’ll rely on me!

But, all the slogans of self-reliance fall flat, because self-reliance is not enough.  Every day the thorn of doubt pokes me in my side making me uncomfortable with success. Every day I question my ability to fulfill a very specific dream that exists only in my imagination. I move in a direction that circles me back to where I started and I can’t seem to step off of the merry-go-round.

Even I am not for me.

Whether it’s the rejection of a friend, betrayal of family or my own inability to rally, it’s the same thing day after day and I’m dizzy from the ride.

There is a story about a man who was called to do something hard, yet it seemed that he, too, was surrounded by opposition. As he was thinking about his challenge one day he happened upon a soldier who stood before him with his sword drawn. Frightened, Joshua asked, “are you with me or against me?”

“Neither” the man replied. “I represent God.”

Suddenly mine and Joshua’s opposition fades to black. Rather than “who is for me” should my question be “who am I for?” Rather than looking for approval and acceptance from people who will always disappoint, I am challenged to look inward and ask if I’m living my life for a higher purpose. If I am, then the opinions of others don’t matter. Being for God means seeking out his approval which I will always find. Being for God isn’t a cop out, it’s a step up! It requires a higher standard, perhaps even a more difficult road, but if I am for Him I get the benefit of His power.  If I center my focus on what He has for me I can more easily tune out the noise of opinions, discouragement and negativity. I can rise above the microagressions and see more clearly the path that lies ahead.  By looking up, rather than out I’m given an entirely different view of the challenges that lie ahead.

Being for God ensures that He is for me and “if God is for you who can be against you?”

Not even you.

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

*This lesson from Joshua is adapted from a teaching by Lysa Terkeurst on the Compel membership site.