a girls dream

About a month ago, I was asked to speak at the MOMS group I’m a part of at Bethlehem Baptist Church. We were asked to share a testimony of God’s work in our lives, and when I thought about it, I kept coming back to the story God has thus far written in my life…

You can hear the recording of that morning here – I was the first one out of three women that shared. I typed it all up and read it mostly because I didn’t trust my memory and I knew I might cry at a couple points. 🙂 Yes, I’m a crier. As I shared what is most definitely GOD’s story, though sometimes I call it mine…I hoped that it would encourage and bless those who heard it and lift the Lord high.

A Girl’s Dream 

Psalm 139:16 – All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he willgive you the desires of your heart

As a young woman, I had a secret little dream that I never uttered to anyone. Mostly because it wasn’t a special dream or a big dream – it was just a simple dream of a girl. A dream that included marrying someone I had known all my life, finding a place to settle and STAY there, raising our babies near their grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. A dream of a cute little house in a small town, or maybe a suburb, filled with joy and laughter and a life that brought joy to the Giver of all Good Things. I didn’t grow up near my extended family – my parents were MN transplants when they moved here when I was 2 years old. Family vacations always meant a road trip to FL, MS or TN to see my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We had wonderful friends here in MN that became like family, but there was always that hole without family close by.

After high school, I found myself going off to college in Indiana and that was the beginning of a journey that would, strangely enough, or should I say gracefully enough, brought me back almost to where I started from. 

This adventure of grace took me to six states and a foreign country in the five years before I came “home”. The miles were many. The lessons were precious. And the ends of chapters were often cliffhangers, the story: beautiful.

In junior high, God very clearly called me to be a missionary to Australia. He never made it clear whether this was a life long call or a short term thing, so when He brought that call to pass in 2003, and then very clearly brought me back to the US a year later due to visa issues…I looked toward going back at some point in the near future. But God had other plans…

He dropped me in Orlando, FL when I returned to the US – 2000 miles from my MN home I had left a year prior. From there, I quickly I transitioned into a job at a camp in Washington State, working as a camp cook with a friend I went to college with.

The theme of my song during all this transition and moving across the country and back again was Joshua 1:9:” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

And He was with me. He hemmed me in before and behind – clearly making my path before me. My Father was so faithfully by my side, leading me with His kindness and bringing me into communities of sweet believers that challenged and renewed my faith. He carried me through the lonely times of living by myself in a tiny 8 x32 foot trailer and starting over finding churches, community and the best place to get groceries. He brought amazing friends into my life that became like family when I was 2000 miles or more from home and my own flesh and blood. He provided all I needed and much more.

During this time, I received my first email from a guy I grew up with in MN named Kyle. We emailed back and forth for about 5 months and then one day in July of 2004, I woke up to the fact that I really, really liked him and I knew, with a settled peace in my heart that could only come from God, that I would marry him someday.

Two years and two months later, after a long-distance relationship and the accrual of many frequent flier miles, I happily became Kyle’s wife. I married a man I’d known since we were 10 year old kids on the playground. Our mom’s are best friends. Our families shared holidays and events. I’d known him for more of my life than not. God heard my simple dream and gave me the desire of my heart.

I moved back to Minnesota just before our wedding and for the past 5 years, we’ve lived in the same small town half an hour north of here. God gave us a beautiful home and in the same breath, an opportunity to use it for the Kingdom when a friend of mine needed a safe place for herself and her four children after her alcoholic husband abandoned them. But that’s a whole nother story of God’s work in our lives.

Today I’m no longer a weary traveler…God has given me the chance to sink some roots down – into a relationship with a wonderful man that daily shows me God’s grace, into a community, a body of believers, into friendships with new friends that have become old friends. I still get the itch to go on adventures, and God has been gracious to allow us to travel, though on a much less frequent basis than in my single years, but now my adventures are in homemaking and child-rearing. Making a game out of staying in the grocery budget and blowing bubbles for a millionth time because of the joy it brings my 18 month old once again.

Today I want to testify to the goodness of God in the land of the living. Sometimes I wonder why me? Who am I, God? Why have you lavished me with blessings and good when others I know and love are going through unspeakable grief and trials that seems to never end?

Recently I read this from Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love and it gave me some perspective.

“Maybe life’s pretty good for you right now. God has given you this good stuff so that you can show the world a person who enjoys blessings, but is still totally obsessed with God. Or maybe life is tough right now, and everything feels like a struggle. God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard.

To be brutally honest, it doesn’t really matter what place you find yourself in right now. Your part is to bring him glory…the point of your life is to point to Him.”

I’ve chosen to say: Blessed be Your Name in these times of the sun shining down on me, while the worlds “all as it should be”, and I can only pray that seeing His great faithfulness over and over in my life will sustain me should the road become marked with suffering and I find myself in the desert places. He promises that this world will have tribulation, but in the same breath I know He has overcome even the most horrible things of this fallen world. I ask Him humbly for faith to walk through whatever lies ahead in the story He has written for me.

In the end, I only want to point to Him – whether the road is sunshine kissed and flower filled or dark and rife with pain.

A girl dreamed a little dream – a big God who loves that girl made it reality. He is good.

favorite recipe of the week: fish tacos

I can’t remember where we first enjoyed fish tacos, but since we were introduced, we’ve been “hooked”. Not like your typical American beef and cheese taco at all, these are fresh tasting – bursting with bright and tangy flavors. I like to fry my corn tortillas in a little coconut oil to make taco shells too…but that’s just me. 🙂

My fish taco recipe is a hybrid of a couple I found on allrecipes.com and merged into my favorite way of preparing them. I usually serve it with mexican rice or corn, depending on how much time I have in the kitchen before dinner. The other thing I love about them is they are super fast to whip up since the fish cooks so quickly. The deep-fried taco shells take more time of course, but you can always sub flour tortillas instead.

Fish Tacos ala’ Johanna

Serves 2

1 lb. of cod or other white fish

Marinade:

¼ cup tequila

¼ cup water

½ cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar (turbinado works well)

1 tablespoon chili powder

Marinate fish while preparing the rest of the meal.

White Sauce:

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon dill

½ teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons lime juice or apple cider vinegar

Accompaniments:

½ head cabbage, shredded

1 carrot shredded

Bunch of cilantro, chopped

Green onions, chopped

Lime wedges

Corn or flour tortillas

Fry or grill fish. You can batter it if you wish, but I never do. Fry corn tortillas into taco shells if desired. Top fish in taco shells with cabbage and carrots, cilantro, green onions and white sauce, squeeze limes on top. Additional accompaniments: queso fresco and tomatoes.

Yum!

12/52

with my lovely latte

it may be corporate coffee and I know I’m not sticking it to the man with my tastes or wallet, but gosh I love me some Starbucks. After living in the espresso soaked culture of Seattle for the better part of two years, Starbucks is a haven of comfort for my latte-devoted soul.

Out in the land of drive-thru espresso stands, a good cup of joe was easily procured from just about anywhere. My favorite little one was Locals on Lakewood Road, which was on the way from the interstate to Warm Beach. There was this one male barista – oh what was his name? It was incongruous with his looks – he was a burly, tattooed ex-Marine or Navy guy and his name was Stanley or Walter or something very old school. Anyway – he was my favorite.

But here in MN, I’ve not found independent shops to be as consistent or pursue high standards of quality like the giant of Coffeeshopdom, Starbucks. And it just so happens that “my” Starbucks is on the way to almost everything I drive to, since its just south on the trek toward “The Cities”. 🙂 Today I stopped in for my typical vanilla latte’, one of their incredible breakfast sandwiches (gouda, egg and bacon on ciabatta – oh for yums) and a couple gift items.

I guess my “signature” drink is a 2 pump tall vanilla latte, and I always hope the barista can make creamy, dreamy foam…its what makes the drink for me. It’s not a sexy or glamorous or complicated drink, but its me. Simple, classic and tasty.

8/52 – behind!

I’m a week behind – egads! I meant to post this on Saturday, but I ended up having a wonderful day out with my man. So here it is, a couple days late. Me in all my 60’s era finery. My wonderful friend Rosanna let me use her pillbox hat, and what you can’t see of the photo is my nude fishnets and awesome vintage black tweed shoes. 🙂 I’ll admit I didn’t take this picture myself. But the alternative is no photo.

channeling the 60's at our party on Friday

We had an awesome time Friday night! I really, really love throwing parties. This was perhaps my favorite to date. Decor, food and drinks came together beautifully and it seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves. Even the men who were bitter about having to dress up. 😉 I love seeing other people have a good time and get satisfaction from having a tiny part in someone’s happiness. Yes, that’s me.

people are more fun than meetings.

tonight i got to write a bio/human interest piece on a young woman heading out to join the military in a few weeks. the words just flew off my fingers from my brain in about 20 minutes…nothing like the procrastination and writers block I usually experience when writing about budget cuts and stale government meetings.

lately I’ve really been wanting to grow as a writer. I am reading this book by Leif Enger. He’s a great writer, in my humble opinion and reading excellent writing leaves me hungry to even just THINK beautiful words, much less put them together in a poignant way. To communicate my thoughts in pleasant words that are exquisite to read or hear.

so how can I turn the events of stodgy, boring government meetings, which really do affect the residents of my fair county, into something that trips off my fingertips like a story about a girl embarking on a new adventure in life? Into something that leaps off the page and causes those who read it to appreciate the nuance of the sentence?

I’m not looking for glory – I just want to be good because its lovely and it makes me happy to read good writing and to write good writing. I think its important to strive for excellence and as Colossians 3:23 says: “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” I think God appreciates excellence and beauty since He himself is excellent and beautiful and does all things well.

So I want to be a better writer. To do that, I probably just need to write. More. and more and more. Time to find some triggers and get my write on. 😉

3/52

silhouette on a cold winter day

this week we’ve stayed inside A LOT. With temps in the negative range almost every day, or at least negative windchills, along with J-Boy being sick most of the week, not much could induce me to leave my cozy house. In this picture I’m cozily clad in all manner of fleece and wool, standing in the window of my bedroom as the winter sun shown bright one afternoon.

one thing winter in Minnesota has going for it is that on the coldest days, the sun always shines. I think its a grace of God that its not both FRIGID and DREARY together. If its warmer, its cloudy; if colder, its sunny. Today I’m hoping to “blow the house dust off” my stir-crazy self, even if just for a Target/Starbucks run. By myself. 🙂

making the leap

well, the time has finally come.

I’ve had a xanga blog for lo these five years past. 🙂 Such a good little bloggy it has been to me. I feel like I’m cheating on it by moving to this new site, but the truth is, more of the world reads blogspot and wordpress blogs and the interface is easier. So here I am.

A wonderful friend is going to help me make it more personal and add some fun touches here and there over time, but for now, this is it. I blog mostly for myself and the many friends and family members that live far away and want to keep up on our lives.

I’ve got some new ideas for this new blog in this new year of 2011 – I’m going to do a 52 week self-portrait challenge. Kinda narcissistic, but I think it will be fun. I’m also going to share some of my favorite recipes, post menus that I’ve put together, and do some fun giveaways. Nothing like $250 Anthropologie gift cards, but things I love and think others might too.

I hope you’ll follow me here if you read my xanga, and maybe I’ll make some new “online” friends too! Is it appropriate to get housewarming gifts for a new blog?

Just kidding! 🙂