Spiritual pride versus truth in love

Her dark brown hair was pulled back into a tight bun. On top was a perfectly placed white head covering, complete with white strings, her modest caped dress hung well below her knees. The 17-year-old scooped ice cream from the cooler as she tried to place the customer’s accent.

“Why do you wear that,” He asked, pointing to her head.

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As a young lady (Sorry I con’t figure out how to rotate the photo)

She referenced 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul instructs women to keep their heads covered and Ephesians 5 where the Paul tells women to submit to their husbands. That’s the only answer she knew. Not too long prior, she had called her older sister who had stopped wearing the covering, pleading with her to come back to the faith.

“I’m curious,” the customer continued, “I’d like to know more about your religion. Come see me at the table over there when you get a break.”

She was used to people’s questions and curiosity. She was curious about him. Her first free moment, she walked over to the table where he waited patiently. Their conversation flowed easily. He was a businessman from South Africa and that brought him to the area. He had never seen Mennonites before and had lots of questions about their faith.

“What do they believe about the Holy Trinity,” he asked.

“The what?” She replied.

“The Holy Trinity, you know, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

“Um, I don’t really know,” She muttered, embarrassed. “I’m not sure I really know much about the Holy Spirit.”

“Wow! Really?!” He gasped. “You don’t know what you are missing out on!”

He went to great lengths to share with her how the Holy Spirit guides, convicts, woos, calls, changes, sets free. He told her that while he respected her religion, it seemed to come with a great deal of bondage, unlike the freedom Christ offers. He shared enthusiastically, but with love and joy, not condemning or mocking like she was used to from those who didn’t understand her religion. He seemed to understand that her faith was not just a personal interpretation of Scripture, but was rooted in generations of tradition and ritual that had become her very identity. In her mind she was wondering what kind of flake she was talking to, but something in her spirit stirred.

I am that girl.

Charles and I stayed in touch, writing occasionally, even though I never saw him again. Several years went by. I eventually stopped wearing the head covering and plain clothes and at some point the letters from Charles ceased. I never gave it much thought. I was always amazed he had taken so much time and interest in a little Mennonite girl from across the pond anyway.

Then one day I received another letter post-marked South Africa. This time it was Charles’ mother telling me he had died unexpectedly of a heart attack at 42 years old. While she grieved she consoled me, his long distance friend, that he was ready to meet God and that he would be waiting for us when our time came. She told me that he had often spoken of me to her and that he was excited about the freedom I was finding in my own relationship with God.

I still have a refrigerator magnet he sent me some twenty years ago. Every time it catches my eye, I thank God for sending Charles my way.

As my freedom grew, so did my “Holy Spirit Fire.” I wanted everyone to have a taste of this freedom. I shared with anyone and everyone with or without their consent. I knew the truth and it had set me free.

I got bold with my new-found freedom, but not everyone was ready to be enlightened. I could rapid-fire loveless truth bullets faster than lightening, leaving a trail of stunned, wounded loved ones in my wake.

One day I drove my rusty (not-so-trusty) Chevy Blazer to an Old Order Mennonite preacher’s house, kicking up a trail of dust as I barreled down the long gravel driveway. I caught him completely off-guard in the garden and demanded answers to questions about this faith I’d always had, but was too afraid to ask before. By this point I had studied Scripture on my own and I had a Scriptural rebuttal for every single answer he gave me. He was speechless and I was proud.

Nobody won that day. Although I did eventually gain a reputation as a “Scripture authority to be reckoned with,” I lost friends. A lot of them. No one wanted this freedom I had when it caused me to be arrogant and heartless toward those who understood and interpreted Scripture differently than I.

Over time my message softened. I began to remember where I’d come from and how firmly and faithfully I believed what I believed, despite the bondage. I no longer consider myself any more enlightened than the next person, because we are all on an individual faith journey. I also came to love and cherish the foundations of my faith formed in youth and childhood.

We can boldly proclaim our freedom and enlightenment all day long, but I quote Paul in Galatians 5:13-15 NLT. “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Be aware of destroying one another.”

I go back to my story about Charles. If he had presented his Holy Spirit theology in an arrogant or demeaning way, I would never have listened. I would have been defensive and closed, spouting off my rhetorical answers like a pre-programmed champion. But instead he shared with love and my spirit resonated with his words.

We can dispute our theologies all day long, we can argue man’s laws and God’s laws, and which ones were historical and cultural and which ones are timeless and eternal. But this I can assure you, “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is NO LAW against these things.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT). Emphasis mine.

There will always be people who disagree or understand differently. We should expect and respect that. But they are living as faithfully to the Gospel as they understand it. I am always eager to break bread together, to share honestly and openly and safely, and to learn from one another. I am faithfully living out my call as best as I can understand it with my finite and imperfect being and enjoy walking this road with others.

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Our faith stories are important. Let’s not diminish or hinder the work of God in one another with loveless truth bullets that maim and wound other parts of the body who understand and interpret Scripture differently. Find common ground and build trusting relationships with people outside of your circle of influence and see what fruit grows. Seeds sown in discourse and contention will reap simply that. Seeds sown in love… Well…

Hebrews 10:24 NLT “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”

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Oops… cookie bars and accidental soup 

There are times I want cookies, but don’t feel like scooping out all the dough. That’s when I make my desired cookie recipe and bake it like bars. (This chocolate chip recipe also makes a great crust for a sweetened cream cheese layer and fruit on top!) 

There are also days I have supper in the works and plans go awry. Like tonight, when I wanted to make a Mexican casserole but the polenta had gone bad. Thankfully I tasted the polenta before pouring into the pan as a crust. As frustrating as it was to relinquish the idea of a casserole and toss the soured polenta, I used the exact casserole filling I’d already combined in another bowl, added a quart of tomato juice, and made taco soup. 

It’s a lot like life, really. You get handed all manner of circumstances for ingredients and what you make of it is up to you. 

I’m so thankful mom taught me how to assess, adapt, and overcome at an early age. Some days it saves my sanity. It reminds me of the gentle-natured painter, Bob Ross, who encouraged even the most novice painter saying, “there are no mistakes, only happy little accidents.”

What happy cooking accidents do you have to share? 

Favorite Buttermilk Pancakes or Plant-based Pancakes… with a twist 

I’m a little late for Valentine’s Day planning. Most of you probably have your dinner planned. I had a nice menu prepared in my head, but ran out of time in my day. So I turned to our family’s favorite “busy day” supper; pancakes. 

Only we wanted red heart pancakes. Did you know puréed beets turn Pancakes a beautiful red and the children (and adults) will never guess they’re eating vegetables! 

Without further ado, here’s my all-time favorite pancake recipe with buttermilk and vegan options. 

Pancakes

1 cup flour (I often use whole wheat)

2 Tablespoons sugar (can use Sucanat, raw sugar, or maple syrup)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons oil (this is where I use puréed beets)

1 cup buttermilk (can use plant milk)

1 egg (or one tablespoon flax meal with 2 Tablespoons water. 

Add a little extra puréed beets if you want them brighter. 

Method: Mix and pour batter on griddle. Turn once. 

Topping options are endless! Strawberries, chocolate chips, whipped cream or coconut cream, nuts, sprinkles, etc.




Enjoy. 

Curried potatoes recipe and a “52 soups” menu

We had a potluck meal at church Sunday and I took a family favorite, curried potatoes. Some people requested the recipe so I will share that below. This is a whole-Foods plant-based dish our whole family loves without giving much thought to the fact that it is so healthy. 

Some of you may have read my recent blog post about 52 soups, breads, and treats. Tonight happens to be our weekly soup night. I am making this roasted garlic tomato soup, three-cheese bread, and these brownies. At least two out of three will be healthy. 🙂 The three cheese bread is supposed to be my supplement to grilled cheese that one must serve with tomato soup. We will see what the family thinks this evening. 

Here is the curried potatoes recipe. I follow it exactly, except reduce the spices a bit. My husband and I both love spicy, but the children not so much. This recipe is from The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell. We love many of the recipes in this cookbook! 


Curried Potatoes 

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 onion diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I omit)

1 Tablespoon Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste

4 teaspoons Garam Masala (you can purchase this, but I make my own from the recipe in this same Cookbook)

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1 teaspoon salt

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1&1/2 cups frozen peas

2/3 cup lite coconut milk 

Method: Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer, just until tender. Be careful not to overcook the potatoes which will create a mushy texture. 

Drain potatoes and set aside. 

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little water until tender, about 5 minutes. (I wait to add the garlic until the onion is tender because minced garlic seems to burn quickly for me.) Once onion and garlic are tender, season with cumin, cayenne if using, curry paste, garam masala, ginger, and salt. Cool two minutes more. 

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, frozen pease, and cooked potatoes. 

Pour in the coconut milk and simmer for 5-10 minutes. 

Enjoy!

Ready to rock the big 4 0

Yep. That’s right! I haven’t given it much thought before. Age isn’t a big deal to me, but when someone ask the age difference between my cousin and me and during that conversation we concluded I turn 40 this year, I started ruminating. 

I spent most of my childhood with a broken heart. With love and respect to everyone in my life, the pain and (seeming) rejection of a mostly absent dad left a gaping bleeding wound. (I’m so grateful to be close to him now.)


Along with that, I always felt like a misfit among my peers. It wasn’t their fault. I was raised in a faith community where roles and rules were clearly defined and again, with all due respect, I did my best to fit the mold outwardly, but inwardly I could never find my place. 


During my teen years I made regrettable and unfortunate decisions that only further wounded my already scarred soul. 

My early twenties were wrapped up in unhealthy relationships.

In my late twenties I met and married my amazing husband. 



In my early thirties we buried our first-born child. 



I gained a lot of weight. 



I lost a lot of weight. 


With the addition of two more biological children and becoming a foster mom, these littles and these past few years have given me purpose and mission. (Though none of them will ever replace our daughter, nor would we want/expect them too.) My husband has loved me imperfectly, but oh so beautifully, scars and all. And the love and mercy and grace of Jesus has overwhelmed me, completed me, seeped into every broken crevice and  healed me. 

I think about the clay pot I keep in frequent eyesight. The pot was broken, shattered in some places, and left lying in what seemed like ruin. But carefully, lovingly, the pieces have been glued back together. This pot is a beautiful analogy of my life; broken, scarred, pieced back together. The holes where the light shines through are where I pray my love, my joy, my empathy, and the light of Christ radiates into the brokenness of others, sharing the same healing and love I myself have received. 



I have finally found my place, my loves, my identity, my life. I have embraced my uniqueness and realized I’m really not that different than most people afterall.  I feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually, than I ever have. I’m totally down with being me, having my own voice, singing my own song, writing my own script, without trying to fit into a box or mold others might expect for me. 

I have earned every laugh line on my face. The emerging wrinkles and creases are “character marks,” each one has a story all their own. 


My actual birthday isn’t until August, but I see this fortieth year as my “year of jubilee” and I plan to celebrate all year. 

I am not celebrating the absence of adversity or without the awareness of the frailty and uncertainty of life. I am celebrating the abiding, comforting, healing presence of Jesus, knowing that he has held me through a lifetime of pain and sorrow and he will continue to walk with me throughout my life journey. 

I am celebrating healing, joy, peace, contentment, and fulfillment in spite of continued uncertainties, worries, and fears. 

I’m glad someone reminded me early in the year that this is the big forty for me so I can live it up. I am ready to rock the big 40!

Fifty-two soups, breads, and treats 

With bonus plant-based chocolate chip cookie recipe. A family favorite in our house!

My mother-in-law gave me a book a while back, “Twelve Months of Monastery Soups.” 


She also gave me a January/February 2017 Food Network Magazine with recipes for cupcakes for each month of the year. 

These two books were part of the inspiration behind my “Fifty-two soups, breads, and treats” idea. The bread idea came about when my brother-in-law gave me a bread machine for Christmas. Although I often make our own homemade bread, this machine makes it possible to have a nice fresh loaf ready right at dinnertime. 

We love soups around here. I love that they can be hearty and healthy at the same time. I also appreciate their versatility and how easily they can come together just with leftovers from the fridge or odds and ends from the pantry. 

So with the inspirations mentioned above and the ongoing effort to do more with less, I thought it would be fun to have one night a week for a whole year with soup, bread, and a simple treat for supper. 

I often look at the ingredients I have on hand and then peruse Pinterest for ideas. Since I’m usually working from scratch without having shopped for a specific recipe, I supplement and interchange ingredients as needed. 

This week I made my own version of this chicken and wild rice soup, using leftover BBQ chicken from a fundraiser. I didn’t have all the exact ingredients on hand, but the substitutes were still delicious and the children loved it! 


I also made this vegan Irish Stout Vegetable Stew, from my emeals menu.

I had made basic white bread a few days before and didn’t make any fresh bread on soup day. 

I did, however, whip up a batch of our favorite “healthy” chocolate chip cookies. 


I have served these cookies to many adults and children who had no idea they were considered “Whole Foods/plant based” and they raved and raved about them. Let me know if you try them and what you think. 

Lunchbox Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz 

Forks Over Knives Cookbook

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup almond butter

1/2 cup dry sweetener (Sucanat or raw sugar)

1 Tablespoon ground flax seed

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1&1/3 cups oat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sorghum flour or whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips 

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix together applesauce almond butter, dry sweetener, and ground flaxseed. Once smooth, mix in vanilla. Add in the oat flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Add the sorghum or whole wheat pastry flour and chocolate chips and mix well. 

Drop spoonfuls into prepared baking sheets and flatten a bit so they resemble thick discs. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.