Simple Food Taught by Edna Lewis

I know it’s been a while since I have posted. A lot of life has been happening with issues with unexpected house repairs to getting ready to be married one week from today. There is so much emotion and story stored up, it’s hard to put into words. Sometimes silence and time away can make the words richer on the glorious return. It will happen soon after I become Mrs. Braveheart.

In the meantime as I was reading one of my favorite food blogs, Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, Shauna Ahern had posted about her new cookbook, American Classics Reinvented. She had mentioned about Edna Lewis, a Southern cook who celebrated being Southern and celebrated food being grown naturally. Her food was simple without not a lot fuss and rich flavors derived from the land. No processed food, preservatives, or junk food filled the pages of her cookbooks. Shauna posted a link to a documentary about Edna Lewis called Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie. I watched the 20 minute film and began to cry. It is story about her life, her relationship with Scott Peacock, a chef and an admirer who took care of her during the last years of her life. His love for her was very touching and so unusual of a man that he made that sacrifice of his own life out of devotion. It reminded me of my grandmother who is from Louisiana and all of her southern cooking. Wonderful comfort food that filled my little girl belly – collard greens and cornbread, banana pudding, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, seafood gumbo every Christmas eve. She learned to cook as a domestic in her 20s which has brought joy and love to her family over the last 60 years. As an 87-year-old still thriving woman, she still brings food joy to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Food can be wonderfully simple and no fuss. Food is meant to nourish and bring families and people together. I love to cook in order to participate in the building of community. I love to hear people moan and groan and say that my food is delicious. It is so satisfying. I hope to someday leave a legacy of food like Edna Lewis and my grandmother. I would love for my tombstone to say “I helped them to eat well”.

 

 

 

 

Decluttering My Heart

We are one step closer to getting the house. The closing date is March 6th. God has answered prayers for a house that is below our budget as well as having the features we were looking for. The plan is for me to move in mid-March and my fiancé would move in after our honeymoon in July. I have accepted that Knob Hill is our new neighborhood. God has been working on my heart. Unearthing any prejudices about neighborhood and the people who lived there. If we are all truly honest, prejudices about a certain people group still exists in the 21st century. It doesn’t rise to the surface until you are confronted with it face to face. I asked God to forgive my feelings towards the working-class blue collar aspects of my new neighborhood. I admit that I have segregated myself through work, church, and everyday life so I wouldn’t have to deal with that part of town. It’s wrong because God has not called us to be so distant. We justify safety and confront at the expense of revealing a loving God to those who don’t see Him every day. Instead they see affluent Christians who seem very much like the rest of the world – afraid to set foot in their places of daily living. People whom God loves just as much. Yet, circumstances like poverty, drugs, and crime have brought them to this present moment. Circumstances that we are not that can happen us. Sometimes, in our quest for God, we forget our humanity. Jesus didn’t shy away from his human side. His love thrived even above the criticism of the Pharisees and Sadducees. I want to be more like Jesus and shed my religious mask. To love freely as I see that person for who he or she is and not as an obstacle to my comfortable life. Yet, I also I’m not naïve about the challenges of living in a raw and vulnerable space. I will need to lean into God more as we start this new journey of our lives.

Simplicity is not always about decluttering things and physical space. It is about decluttering our hearts of the things that keep us in bondage and doesn’t allow us to be transformed by God. It is the dark dank spaces with its odor spilling out and tainting the view of God. My fiancé and I have to be careful not bring in baggage that could destroy the work that God may be already doing there. I’ve been praying how I can serve in the community. The local elementary school is one place to start. Most of the children come from single parent homes and live at or below the poverty line. I was that child a long time ago with a single mom trying to make ends meet. It is amazing how God can bring you back full circle.

I’m also looking forward to making our home a place of simple hospitality. A refuge for those to rest over a good meal and good conversation. Simple meals. Simple intentionality of making those individuals feel at home. God has convicted me of this lately as I’m reaching out to old friends that I have neglected from being too busy and exhausted from work. I’m praying for a job change so I can do this gesture on a more frequent basis. I feel called to be closer to home and making it safe place to fall for my soon to be husband.

I’m putting down roots in a community I never dreamed of. Yet, God has open up my ideals and placed in new ones. Ones that are God breathed and God created. I just need to be obedient and see what He does with it. Like that old Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want. You get what you need.” God knows what I need before I know it. I just need to trust and simply surrender.

Simple Pleasure Song of the Day – You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones

God Isn’t About Safety

The house that my fiancé and I put the offer on fell through. There was another offer and the sellers went with it. We questioned the whole process especially when the sellers wanted a bidding war instead of saying our offer was too low. Even though I really liked the house, I wasn’t attached to it. So, I wasn’t heartbroken when it went away. We kept looking for other houses. We found one that had everything we wanted – 2 car garage, open floor plan, full basement with a ¾ bathroom. The price was lower than what I qualified for. The only caveat was that it was not in a good neighborhood. The house was built in the 1950s when the neighborhood was thriving. Yet, over time as our city grew with transplants putting down roots, more of them wanted to live in certain neighborhoods where the schools had 5 star ratings. It impacted the neighborhood where the house is. Crime like drugs, abuse, etc. exists in the surrounding area which makes housing values plummet. Some houses show the wear and tear of neglect. No new painting or landscaping. Old broken down cars parked on the street or in driveways. It is not the suburbs with its pristine manicured lawns, five cookie cutter styles, imported cars and people who make a good middle class or upper middle class income. The neighborhood that the house is in is working class to lower middle class. Yet, we found ourselves liking the house with its “bang for the buck” large size and remodeled kitchen and bathrooms. As we inspected the house during the showing, we weren’t sure at the time if we liked it. There were some things that needed to be fixed like the concrete backyard. My fiancé’s dogs need some dirt or grass to do their business. Yet over lunch, we had talked ourselves into wanting to make an offer as we took a diamond in the rough and imagined the possibilities.

While visiting friends the night before, we told them about the house. They live four blocks away from it. They have lived in the neighborhood for over 12 years. They do a snack ministry for the kids who live in the neighborhood. Kids who have witnessed neglect, abuse, lack for resources, and broken families. Our friends provide a light for them in their dark lives. One of the kids who is now an adult thanked them for being in his life. He has a child and will marry his son’s mother. Our friends felt that God had called them to live there instead of the typical suburbs. And, they have seen the fruit of their labor. They admit it is not easy living there. They told a story of a drug dealer who came to their house and confronted them. Our friend talked with him while his wife stayed in the bedroom praying. After talking with the husband, the drug dealer was satisfied and left. He never bothered them again. They praised God’s protection. Now, they have a 6-year-old son that they homeschool. They don’t feel the need to move him to the suburbs. They want him to witness what God is doing in their lives. They would be happy if we moved in the neighborhood too.

I will admit that I’m afraid to live in that neighborhood. I long for safety. I’m drawn to the suburbs because I didn’t have it as a child. Most of the neighborhoods I lived in were similar to this one. I thought as a grown up, I would finally get a ticket to that magical suburbia and rest in my security. But, God isn’t about safety. He is about His purpose and will. Our friends are living it out. Living out an authentic simple life which I strive to do. It is hard to do when our American culture is about safety and our Christian culture mirrors it. But, when you look at Christianity, most of the Christ followers took courageous risks because they were called by God. It was messy, dirty, and sometimes fatal. But, it was an authentic life. This prospective house has made me examine my heart and visit those fearful places and want what I want. Yet, the more my fiancé and I talked, we could image ourselves living there. We went from being in a potential HOA community and now considering a house that is not considered as part of the typical American life script. But, my fiancé and I haven’t followed that life script too well. Our lives look totally different and we are okay with that. Our God is wild, imaginative, and sometimes unpredictable which fuels our unconventional lives. So, we put an offer on the house and may become part of the neighborhood that my friends live in. They will be happy. God may be happy too as we are allowing Him to take us out of our comfort zone. (Okay, my comfort zone). We will see as we put the offer in today. Stay tuned.

Simple Pleasure Song of the Day – Beautiful Things by Gungor

First Time Wife and First Time Home Buyer

Today, the finace and I looked at houses. I went from being a woman who lived in a perpetual state of post-college to now an almost married lady. My life before him consisted of never married no-kids activities like living in an apartment, changing jobs when I got sick of them, jettison off to the Wine Country or New York City for a weekend jaunt with friends. I only had to pay off my bills, eat cheese and crackers for dinner instead of cooking, or eating out a nice restaurants with no concern about spending $30 to $40 for the evening. Budget? What’s a budget I said back then. I justified it by saying I didn’t buy a diamond ring or did a shopping spree. I was living the carefree single life with no commitments or no grown up duties like buying a house. Now, I will be a 44-year-old first time married woman and first time home buyer, about to be stepmother to a 22-year-old and three fur babies.

In the past, I was afraid to buy a house because I knew it locked me into a job and staying in one location. Instead of being relationship phobic, I was house phobic as my commitment issues reared its ugly head. I like the idea of being nomadic, having the freedom to leave as needed. But, with looking at houses in order to buy one before my wedding in July, I have to grow up. No more fantasies about leaving my job or finding a lower paying job. We found a house that we both imagine living there for the rest of our lives, God willing. We moved forward with contracts process, surrendering it to God for the outcome. I reconciled that I had to stay put at my current job despite the stress. For this house would require both incomes. It was hard to accept as I fantasized about either living on one income or working a less stressful but lower paying job. My heart longs for a simple life. But, I will need to find it in my current circumstances. Especially since the nesting domestic side has been emerging ever since we’ve been dating and now engaged. And, part of the side wants a permanent house. What we found today is our home. Home is wherever I am with him. We both see our lives unfolding there as a married couple, someday grandparents, and presently inviting people over and experiencing the warmth of our home. We are praying the contract process goes smoothly so I can move into our house in the next few months and then my fiance will after the honeymoon.

As for work, I’m doing better self-care like drinking a greens packed powder with water daily instead of coffee, going to bed earlier, and listening to positive subliminal messages with soothing music to help my anxiety and stress. I feel much better as I started doing this two weeks ago. I didn’t have to do radical things to find simplicity. I just had to be intentional and slow down. Focusing on what is important and being grateful for the things I have been blessed with.

Simple Pleasure Song for the Day – Home by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

 

 

 

Simplify Your Life in 2015

simple living

A new year. A new life season. A new blog.

In my previous blog, I wrote about being a 30-something single woman with all of the calamities and celebrations that come with being single. Yet, I found as years passed, I became that bitter woman who was upset that she wasn’t married with children. My posts reflected the cynicism in dating and relationships. Yet, I didn’t want to be that woman. So, I stopped blogging and learned how to live like I may never get married. It was hard. I wanted my writing to reflect the whole me. Not just the “me” who felt like her life was lacking because she was without a man. Yet, I missed blogging. I had to figure out new things to write about. It took time to discover my new blogging identity.

During that time, I met a wonderful man who was everything I had prayed for. We dated then he proposed last June. We are getting married in July. I’m truly happy but realized that my life was getting complicated. I work at a stressful job. The stress caused physical illnesses such as a begin growth on my upper lip, a pulled back muscle, sprained rib cartilage from moving a heavy box, a bout of shingles, and trip to the ER for chest pains. Chest pains turned out to be an anxiety attack. Lying in the hospital bed, I had hit the wall. I had stopped exercising because I was too tired from working. I started stress eating and not watching my diet. The cortisol hormones produced by the stress kept the extra pounds on, making losing weight almost impossible. I had functioning anxiety where I dreamed nightly about work and didn’t know how to relax. I would wake up anxious and worried about the day. Weekly meltdowns with my finance as I cried from being overwhelmed. Not only was my work life wearing me out so was my personal life. My finance’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and died a few months later. All during the first months of our dating relationship. Then, his stepfather had a stroke not to long after his mother’s death. And, my finance was dealing with his own health problems. The different emotions hit my like a hurricane, slamming my physical well-being. My body was screaming for help no matter how much I said I was fine. It was my truth teller.

Life became complicated. I long for simplicity. To reclaim it with gusto. It became my new mantra. It became the theme of my new blog. The Beautiful Simple. Reclaiming simplicity in everyday life. Why the title the Beautiful Simple? Because simplicity is beautiful. It helps you to lead a beautiful and authentic life. I strive for it everyday. Some days I succeed and other days I fail. But, that is okay. It is all part of the journey.

I hope you journey with me as I write about simple living through healthy eating, living frugally, self-care, and daily life. Celebrating the simple things that make our heart sing and adds joy to our existence. Simplicity is there for you if you are up to the challenge of laying down the complex “shoulds”, to-do lists, perfectionism, and complicated life scripts. It is about being simply enough and accepting it. Like the sign says – Simplify Your Life!

Simple Pleasure Song of the Day – Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest