“Can I talk to you for a few minutes?
You're the only one I know that won't judge me.”
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On a beautiful and crisp fall afternoon, I walked alone at the park. Offering myself peace, grace, and space. Finally surrendering to the heaviness, I've been fighting this week. The feeling of
In this second week of November, most of the leaves had already floated from the branches and collected on the trails in shades of oranges, yellows, and rubies. Judging by the number of people I passed by, as fall winds down in Iowa, it seems many have taken notice.
Driving around town garage doors are open as kids play basketball in the driveway. Bikes that have grown dusty in the summer, ready to be taken out for the last of their sunset rides. The days have grown short, colder, and dark.
It's sweet to see people walking hand in hand, stopping to ask about their neighbors with offerings of the final produce from their gardens
Three years now
I look back on the space and realize I've been coming here to write for nearly three years. While that's certainly a milestone in the realm of creativity, what I also realize is that it's a milestone in more significant ways. I started my online journal during a season of
A season when I was trying a new way of being.
The seeding of a different life, one that allowed tiny splashes of grace to trickle into the moments that used to be frenzied, and driven by the desires of others. The moments when the puppies were barking, the kitchen timer just went off, a friend wanted to meet at a moment's notice, and a teenager did what!? (again?!)
Looking back, there were big changes that needed to be made, no doubt about it. But really there were so many small ones as well. The tiny shifts in my head, the pinches of salt on my eggs
A season of asking for forgiveness, when all I wanted to do was hide under the covers, run away, or stack the invisible hurts up into a wobbly house of cards — a feeble defense tower of my own making.
A season of teaching myself discipline with gentleness and forgiveness. Knowing my first instincts were always to please someone else
A season of finding a sacred beauty in the endless cycle of cooking and cleaning and working; cooking and cleaning and working. (When really, I'd rather just take a warm bath, and read a good book)
A season of trying, and failing, and failing (again), and failing (yet again).
A tiny hummingbird flapping her wings as fast as she could, over and over and over. That is until, by the sheer grace of God, a second gust of wind would arrive in the form of a kind note from a friend, a long meditative walk, or a steaming hot chocolate
Building my new life was as disorganized, and far from seamless as one could possibly get. Akin, I suppose, to creating a symphony with untrained musicians, a frazzled conductor, and pitchy instruments.
Our conversation has been heavy on my heart, a child in need of nothing in particular, other than someone would listen. A fellow hummingbird flapping his wings with everything he had. A fellow traveler on a familiar journey, in a desperate attempt at finding his way.
His words took me right back to that season, and how painfully difficult it really is to change yourself at the core. To the days that were dark, when it would have been easier to simply give up.
For a while, I tried to ignore the feelings he left on my heart, but really, sometimes there are things that one can only live
and love yourself through
Before finding myself at the park, I'd spent the better part of the day volunteering at the Boy's Recovery House, a residential program for teens that are struggling with addiction. Sundays are always special and set aside for family visits.
“How does this work? How did we end up visiting our child in a group home when we did the best we could? When the program is finished, will they return him fixed up and as good as new? Please? So we pick up where we left off?”
Hopeful this season is simply an event, one that will appear as a blip on life's radar, instead of something that will define their family forever
“Most of the people I love won't have anything to do with me.”
“All you can do is build a new circle.”
“I'm such a different person now; how will they ever know? “
“They won't; know it's easier and more comfortable for people to turn away. Keep the lesson close to your spirit, offering others the gifts of grace, and a second chance.”
“Am I forever defined as the person I was during a dark time in my life?”
“To some, you will be”
“Maybe it's true; you reap what you sow?”
“Lots of people see the world as black and white. Though no one can really know what another soul is sowing, they make a judgment of you based on a snapshot in time
I much prefer to see life as a million shades of grey. It's in those very shades that I've found beauty, grace, love, and a whole lot of forgiveness. I've always felt God closest in the grey, especially in the grey
The times when the world pointed and branded me a failure. Only I knew differently, the tiny seeds I was sowing”
“I love you; you know that, right?”
Long ago, I discovered that practicing a new way of being is just that – a practice.
It's the learning of a new exercise, the fitting into a new dress. A deep, intrinsic mix of fancy footwork and endless alterations. At times requiring all of me: my time, energy, and focus.
It was work, a beautiful and worthy work, but work nonetheless. Admittedly, on some days, or cold nights, it felt almost selfish
I love to read about the process authors go through when writing a book. It's always a surprise to discover there are times when it takes an entire season to write a single chapter. Inspiration coming in fits and bursts, a broken shower head where the water pressure is too much, and then not enough; and suddenly a trickle of a sentence, or the drip of a paragraph breaks through. And there is progress
In those seasons, they write, they have to be selfish; for there is something beautiful springing forth, and it requires all of their being
And so the author might decline that new project at work or the volunteer position at her child's school, and she might ignore the four dozen emails that feel pressing, or timely, or important. She might quit her book club, cancel a dinner, or reschedule a meeting. She might appear to the outside world as distracted, unreliable, flighty, or even
And yet, inside, there was a portrait being painted. There was a masterpiece being chiseled, and her job was to show up and to allow it. To invite it, and to pick up the pen again, and again, and again
Through it all, to keep practicing. Keep showing up; right where she was. To keep trying and failing, and trying again. To keep getting a little bit better every day
No matter who chooses to see.
A recipe for a take-out favorite that you can make at home. A version that's healthier, cheaper, and tastier
Tender, crispy baked chicken bites in a sticky honey-Sriracha sauce make for an easy weeknight meal or party appetizer.
Certainly, you can toss the chicken in sauce and serve over rice, a replication of the take-out version. Or we like the option of serving the sauce on the side, with toothpicks for dipping.
~ Adapted from JoCooks
Baked Honey Garlic Chicken
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Honey Garlic Sauce
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce, optional
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For Serving
- 2 green onions, sliced thin
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 375° F
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the breadcrumbs to a shallow plate.
- Beat the eggs in another shallow plate.
- Season eggs with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Add the chicken to the eggs and toss to make sure each piece is fully coated.
- Coat each piece of chicken with breadcrumbs and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and slightly golden.
- In the meantime, add the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn down the heat and cook for a couple more minutes stirring occasionally.
- Pour sauce over chicken and toss so that the chicken pieces are fully coated. (If there's leftover sauce, use for dipping.)
- Garnish with sesame seeds and parsley, if preferred.
- Serve over rice and/or veggies