Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Envy

My husband and I have a voracious appetite for books. Reading has its ritualistic spot in our daily lives: every night, before going to sleep, we grab a book from our respective piles and dig in.

Here are the two books each of us has been reading the most, can you tell whose is whose? (hint: look at the right side bar...)

The other night, I was about to dive back into Middle Earth when Michael started telling me interesting facts he had learned from his book about world religions. I found myself wanting to put down The Two Towers to read his Guide to World Religions. This happens all the time, not only to me, but also to him. We call this desire to switch over to what your spouse is reading "book envy."

I recently came down with a major case of book envy.

Although I had read Corrie ten Boom's autobiography as a child, I had forgotten most of her life story. Michael read it recently and told me incredible stories of Corrie's family providing a refuge for Jews during the Holocaust, their eventual arrest by the Nazis, and her utter devotion to God even while suffering in hellish concentration camps.

Can you believe this sweet thing risked her life to save
people who weren't her ethnicity or religion?
What an amazing, Christian woman. I want to be like her.

One simple story from Corrie's childhood has not left me even weeks later. It has subtly impacted the way I see the world.

I asked Father about a poem we had read at school the winter before. One line had described “a young man whose face was not shadowed by sexsin.” ... And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.

“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. 

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a
load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions—for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”

In the Nazi concentration camps, Corrie was continually presented with a load much too heavy for her to carry. As she witnessed the deep depravity and suffering of human beings, she continually handed this load over to her heavenly Father.

For whatever reason, God has given me a heart that is tender toward the deep suffering in the world. Therefore, I give my prayers, my money, and my career to addressing these issues. But, sometimes I can hardly stand to hear one more story of someone using their power to victimize others. I ask God, "Why?" and I get limp answers, if any answers at all.

And this is when I hear God, through the story of Corrie's father, telling me that I don't have to carry the suffering in the world. He will carry it for me. And that's where I begin to find peace.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Indian Vegetable Curry

Beautiful ingredients make delicious food.

I have been craving really good Indian food for a few months, but my favorite Indian restaurant is over 1,000 miles away in Colorado, so I decided to make this Vegetable Curry recipe that I found in my favorite cookbook ever.

Once I saw how fresh and colorful the ingredients were, I busted out my camera and went hog wild playing food photographer.

The final product was so good! I daresay it even tasted authentic. Plus, it is super healthy and the ingredients are super cheap.

Here's the recipe:

Start the rice. Do Basmati if you're going for authentic! Heat until sizzling:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
Add and cook a little bit:
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
Stir in:
  • 2 teaspoons of hot curry powder
Stir in (all of these ingredients are approximate):
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups cauliflower
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
Cover and cook until vegetables are tender. (~10 minutes) Stir together in a small bowl:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
Add to the vegetables. Cook all until heated through. Serve over rice garnished with chopped almonds.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Second to delicious, practically free food, the thing I've enjoyed most about gardening is appreciating in a new way how my food grows. Pre-gardening, I generally knew that seeds sprout into plants which produce flowers and fruits. I got that.

But, to actually watch it happen is a whole different story.

Here's one of my plants producing a beautiful, white flower. Can you tell what type of plant it is yet?

The flower dies and in its place, a fruit magically appears. (I guess I still don't understand everything.)

And the fruit grows and grows into a full-fledged bell pepper!

By the way, did you know that orange and red bell peppers are merely ripened green bell peppers? I geeked out about that once upon a time and now I'm proving it in my backyard!

The same is true with tomatoes. Here you see blurry, yellow flowers on the right, a teeny green tomato with a little flower shrapnel still attached, and larger green tomatoes to the left.

And here, flower is clinging to the very tip of the green bean that took its place.

And then there's this guy who is so cute that I don't mind the little holes he munches in my leaves.

I am so grateful for my little plot of land, and I'm so glad that we have tried our hands at gardening.
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