Friday, April 22, 2011

Relationship for survival

Image via Velvet Morning

"Let us not make a mistake - that the hunger is only for a piece of bread.  The hunger of today is so much greater: for love - to be wanted, to be loved, to be cared for, to be somebody." 
Mother Theresa

I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of relationships and friendships.  It was God's design for us to need each other - need to love and be loved, need to hear and be heard, need to connect and be connected with.  It is vital to our existence to have relationships with each other.  Without them, we are slowly stripped of our human-ness.

I am glad this was the theme during our church's prayers this week. I would like to continue this prayer - that we will continue to seek relationship with each other - not in superficial, self beneficial ways, but that we will join each other in our struggles, strengths, joys and hardships.  That we will value each other and be available for each other.  

This song is a continuation of my prayer: 

I need you, you need me. 
We're all a part of God's body. 
Stand with me, agree with me. 
We're all a part of God's body. 

It is his will, that every need be supplied. 
You are important to me, I need you to survive. 
You are important to me, I need you to survive. 
(repeat 3X) 

I pray for you, You pray for me. 
I love you, I need you to survive. 
I won't harm you with words from my mouth. 
I love you, I need you to survive. 
(repeat 8 X)

It is his will, that every need be supplied. 
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Discovered a new game today...Blurt! Apparently its a pretty popular game, but it was the first I've heard of it.  It was in a random collection of card games at work - pulled it out and played with a group of students - they had a blast and it seemed like we all learned quite a bit.

The point, from what I understood, is to guess what word is being defined. The first person to guess the word being defined advances.  This was great on two levels - it made reading and thinking about how things are described competitive, and it built the student's vocabulary. The students were practicing their English language skills in reading, comprehension and listening, while also getting a good laugh.  It was great seeing their progression from resisting the challenge of the game to completely embracing it, gaining confidence and consequently thinking quicker on their feet.

 It was fun for the kiddos, but I can see it being a blast at an adult game night as well.  I'm going to have to pick it up for myself now! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Do you believe?

Last week at work I was, possibly for the first time in my life, asked directly what I believed.  The ten-year-old Muslim girl threw me off guard when she asked me if I was a Muslim.  I replied that I wasn't.  She then prodded and asked if I went to church.  Finally, she looked me directly in the eyes and asked, 

"Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?" 

Wow. Never has any adult asked me this so directly, and coming from a child I was, to say the least, a little unprepared.  I replied "yes," to which she boldly responded, "well I don't believe that God had any wives or children."

At this point a million thoughts ran through my mind: do I engage her in this conversation and explain the trinity and the details of my beliefs (which I was probably unprepared to eloquently do), or do I respect the rules of keeping religious talk out of the workplace? What would happen with whatever I said - how would she respond? Would I get reprimanded for sharing this information? I wondered how many other people she asked this and what came of those conversations. 

But what came out of my mouth was, "what do you believe?"  To which she didn't respond and then, to not make her dwell in the awkwardness, I asked what other beliefs she knew about.

We talked a little about various religions and beliefs people held, but before we could get into anything of significance, it was time to leave.  I really cannot stop thinking about this small encounter.  I am sure I will see this girl again, and my prayer is that she will continue to be curious and to ask questions.  I pray also that God will give me the right words to say and also for the other people she will most likely talk with.  Regardless of any silly mistakes on my part, I am sure God has His heart and eye on her and all things are working together for His good.

This encounter was also a great blessing for me, because it made me start thinking seriously about what I believe and why.  Various religions hold true to their roots and there are some things they do not compromise.  As Christians, we should never compromise the reality of Christ and the power of His death and resurrection, both what it means in our lives and what it means in the larger sense for the world.  I am no theological scholar - but I know it is important to acknowledge my brokenness and accept the healing and restoration that comes from Christ alone.  Whenever I have strayed from this truth, my spirit strongly suffered and my identity became out of whack.  My identity is tied up with Christ, and apart from Him I am nothing.  

I hope this Easter is full of meditation and focus on what Easter is truly about. 

Here are some songs I am listening to this week, in preparation for Easter:  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crockpot favorite: chicken tortilla soup

Definitely a keeper, although next time I might add some corn to add a little more body to the soup. 

Photo via Fat Free Vegan

Tortilla Soup from The Slow Cooker Revolution
serves 6 to 8

1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tomatoes, corred and chopped 
1 onion, minced
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (I used half of a poblano pepper and it worked fine)
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo 
1 tbs tomato paste
8 cups chicken broth
10 cilantro stems, tied together with twine 
1.5 lbs skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
salt & pepper

4 cups tortilla chips
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
lime wedges, for serving

1. Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes, onion and half of jalapenos and cook until onion is softened and browned, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic, 1 tablespoon chipotles and tomato paste and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Stir in 1 cup of broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker. 

2.  Stir remaining 7 cups broth and cilantro stems into slow cooker.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender 4-6 hours on low. 

3. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly , then shred into bite size pieces (if there is bone, you can remove it now too).  Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Discard cilantro.

4. Stir in shredded chicken, remaining jalapenos and remaining teaspoon chipotles (if you want to add more spice) and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste (I found the soup already flavorful enough so did not add any salt or pepper).  

Place tortilla chips in serving bowls, ladle soup over top and serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream, cilantro and lime wedges.  
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