If You Believe

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

John 11: 21

“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

John 11:32

Martha and Mary could not comprehend why Jesus did not come sooner. “…had you been here,” they exclaimed, and the truth behind their troubled words is one we can relate to. As if asking: God, why? Why do you allow bad things to happen to innocent children? Why do the good suffer while the evil and corrupt are blessed and rise to power? Why don’t you put a stop to rape, genocide, murder, inequality? Why don’t you help us, Lord? How can you allow suffering and sorrow into your creation that was supposed to be perfect?

I wrestle with these questions on a regular basis; not having answers has caused me to question my faith, doubt God is good, and experience the painful side effects of not believing God is who He claims to be.

“Jesus wept… Jesus, once more deeply moved, came back to the tomb… ‘Take away the stone,’ he said… ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘take off the grave clothes and let him go.'”

John 11:35;38;40;43-44

I don’t have answers for why there is suffering in the world, but I do have hope in the red letters of my sweet Savior’s voice. I have the hope of resurrection. We, like Lazarus and like Jesus, may have suffering now, but IF we believe, we will also have a resurrection to an eternal life with no death or suffering, a perfect place God intended for creation.

My hope for those who suffer (especially children) is this: that is not the end of their story. Their story may begin with suffering (much like Jesus’s story did), but the end result is a life of eternal peace.

God, give me faith to believe. Amen.

Chili

So this may have been the best batch of chili I’ve made yet. With fall around the corner, it was a well-timed treat!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1/4 purple onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 packet chili powder
  • 28oz diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 16oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 jalapenos, diced and deseeded (leave the seeds if you want hot chili). You can also have a couple more jalapenos on hand to add as a topping for the chili.
  • 4-6 green onions, diced. White and greens included
  • 1 lbs hamburger
  • 1 lbs sausage
  • Toppings: sour cream, cilantro, shredded cheese, jalapenos, green onions
  • Sides: cornbread, garlic bread, Greek salad, Fritos

Directions

In a large frying pan, melt the butter. Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add in the pound of ground hamburger and cook until mostly browned. Sprinkle half of the chili seasoning onto the hamburger. Then add in the pound of sausage, sprinkling the remaining chili seasoning onto the sausage. Cook on a low heat just until it’s barely cooked. It will continue to cook in the crock pot, so you don’t want to dry out the meat. Dump the meat, onions, garlic, and butter into a crock pot. Pour in the diced tomatoes and beans and give it a stir. I make my beef broth on the stove. So make your beef broth and pour it in. Add in the green onions and jalapenos, and cook on low until the chili starts to boil/bubble.

We love to top our chili with sour cream, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, jalapenos, and eat it with some Fritos.

Faith is What you Find

This morning I was led to a new definition – well, perhaps ‘understanding’ is a better term—of faith.

“Faith is what you find at the end of your faith”

              Abraham – Father of Faith – got the call (from God) to leave and go to a faraway land, and he left.  How long did it take him wandering in the wilderness before he grew weary?  How many sleepless nights did he stay up talking to God, asking if he is on the right path?  How many times did he ‘farm’ Sarah out to other men in fear that he would be killed – in fear that God brought him ‘this far’ but was not going to bring him any farther?

              How long did Abraham wait to have Isaac?  How many days and nights did he spend consoling a crying Sarah and convincing her (or maybe convincing himself) that God would fulfill His promise and bless them with a child?  How long before the two decided to take matters into their own hands and have Sarah’s servant bear a child for them, and how long after the birth of Ishmael did Sarah beat her servant and eventually kick her out?

              Abraham received the call, and it was an exciting call!  We have all ‘heard a call,’ and it was/is SO exciting!  We change our plans. We rearrange our schedules.  We pack our bags to head out and end up waiting on the tarmac for years and years (and perhaps years and years and years!).

              When ALL the excitement from the call has worn off… When all the adrenaline from packing your bags and embracing change has LONG since subsided… When your 3-hour prayers calling heaven down become 30-minute, feeble, disheartened mumblings… When you are sitting in solitude at your lowest point wondering IF God is good, wondering IF you heard right, and questioning IF faith is worth pursuing, and you make up your mind: yes.  Yes, God is good.  Yes, you heard right, and YES faith IS WORTH pursuing.  It is in this moment, as you rise just a little from the ashes to choose faith, when you find faith, a real, genuine faith that this world CANNOT have, and the enemy CANNOT snatch.

Faith is more than an intellectual response to the facts of the Bible. It is more than an emotional response that is soon forgotten.

Faith that saves is transformative. Faith that saves looks like: getting baptized once you believe in God and decide to follow him, forgetting all idols and vices that used to satisfy your pain, like excessive drinking or pornography or abusive tendencies or binge eating because all of those are replaced by the one true God who alone can satisfy all of our cravings and heal all our hurts. Genuine faith is taking God at his word and choosing not to worry because you trust the One Who holds your future… You trust the One Who holds your career…you trust the One Who gives life and you know that either biologically or through adoption, he will give you the family you desire. When we truly believe the creator of everything is who he says he is and we share an inheritance and an eternal life, when our response moves from the intellect and from a feeling to genuine, life-changing faith, you and this world will never be the same.

God, we pray today asking for a simple and genuine faith. Although we were saved and baptized long long ago, and have been hot and cold ever since, we just pray for a faith that will change our thoughts and transform our hearts. We don’t want to continue on in sin or guilt or doubt or depression or worry or anxiety or feeling overwhelmed by this life. We pray that the entire truth of the gospel, the entire person of Jesus and the Trinity will come and cloud our thoughts and our hearts and our bodies and we will be forever changed. Lord we realize that this work is a work of you and work of your holy Spirit, and we pray that today you would pour out your spirit in abundance God. We are asking we are seeking we no longer want to settle for anything less than what you can give us. Pour out your spirit of truth over us today, and we’re going to keep asking again tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day because those who ask receive and we’re counting on a faithful God to fill his children with a spirit of faith. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ Almighty who died and rose again, trusting in His blood. Amen.

“Faith is what you find at the end of your faith”

No Love in Corporate America

I normally don’t write like this, but therapy, here goes:

I have worked for my company for 8 years. Getting a foot in the door at this Bank was a huge answer to prayer. I was so grateful to my manager for taking a chance on me. In doing so, I found a job I enjoyed, a manager I enjoyed, and a company I enjoyed. It seemed like the pieces of my troubled teens and lost twenties were finally coming together. I did not stay in the same position for the last 8 years and my managers have come and gone, but I have stayed with the same company because I really respected the (former) president of the company. He was an incredible orator and had a huge heart for the Bank’s employees and for the community. He worked his way up the ladder from a teller to a president, and his story gave me hope that even a ‘nobody’ (as far as Corporate America is concerned) could become ‘somebody.’

Fast forward from the start of my career to year 6. I was 31 years old and was pregnant with my first child. I worked with my manager to kick ass and take names. So much so that she wanted me to take over her title and role, which was going to come with a sweet promotion, a promotion that I worked really hard to get. When I came back from maternity leave, I was told “No mid-year promotions.” It was very deflating. I felt like a carrot was dangled in front of me and snatched away; as well, it felt like my manager and her manager were waiting to see if I was the same employee as I was before having a child.

Truth was, I was not the same employee. As much as I LOVED my career and DEEPLY wanted this promotion, I had a 3-month old boy at home, still breastfeeding and still needing his mom. After I was told “No” to the promotion, I asked to go part time. I certainly received push back/hesitation, but I was allowed to go part time, which I thought was a huge blessing.

Part time was a joke. I had my hours and pay cut in half without my workload cut in half. My manager (although I didn’t know it) was on the brink of retirement and had little desire to do work. So she came down hard on me. For example, I was sick, my son was sick, and I took a week off. In our next 1:1 she told me that we needed to have a talk about my attendance. Up to that point, I had all of my vacation and 70 hours of sick time and 80 hours of COVID time off to use. I told my manager that I need to be able to use my sick time when I am sick or my child is sick and for my own mental health. She said, “Yes, I know, but when you’re sick, I have to pick up the slack.”

Aside from not being able to use my sick time or getting calls and meetings scheduled on my days off, my manager let me know that part time wasn’t working. (This was 2 months into part time.) My husband and I decided to bite the bullet and have me quit, which was our plan at March end, but then my manager announced her retirement. It was one of the happiest career moments I’ve had. I felt harassed and harangued by this micromanager. She is a great person and would be an excellent drinking buddy, but she was a terrible manager, especially with one foot out the door toward retirement. (She told me that ‘back in her day,’ She was given 6 weeks maternity leave when she had kids and then went back to work full time; so the empathy was not there for a mom who wanted to make a different choice.

It has now been 7 months into me starting part time work, and my current manager has let me know that she needs more coverage. Instead of suggesting a job share or hiring another part time employee or even getting an intern, she asked me to increase my hours. I obliged but not because I want to but because I was told I could increase to 30 hours, and it is an ‘interim’ shot. If 30 hours isn’t enough for her, I am getting fired.

I understand it is business, and it is not personal, but to me if feels personal. For me, EVERYTHING is on the line: my income that is needed to support our family, my quality time with my son; (I’ll never get this time back), and my mental health. I have been with this company for 8 years. I’ve worked through men making inappropriate jokes toward me, being sick with COVID and being sick with strep. When I was called by the doctor and told I need an emergency induction, I logged into work to wrap up a couple things and set my away and inform my manager. (Before you judge me, I was already packed and had been packed for 2 weeks. So while I waited for my husband to pack, I wrapped up work.)

The point I am trying to make is: I am a dedicated worker. I’ve worked through shit to not screw anyone over and to hang my hat on the work I do. I love this company. I love my job, and this company and this job do not love me, which I didn’t expect it to, or maybe I did a little. I am not sure. I just really wish parents were given an opportunity to job share or go part time or have a family and not be punished.

So I am increasing my hours to 30, saying by to my son for another 10 hours, and still waiting to see how my manager feels to know if I have a job in 6 months. (Perfect timing as it looks like we’re headed for a recession.)

If anyone knows of a part time job for a Project Manager in Model Risk Governance (RM&C), let me know. Looking for a company and a career to love that will support me back.

End Rant.

Thanks for letting me get that out.

Yours truly,

Katie

Avocado Salad

So this is a super easy recipe to make, and wonderfully refreshing on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Two avocados, diced or quartered, depending on how big you want the chunks
  • Cheese of choice. This photo depicts mozzarella, but we’ve used feta as well.
  • Olive oil, as much as you want to coat the salad
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash and chop the ingredients, and mix it all together. Enjoy!

Hidden Veggie Muffins

These Hidden Veggie Muffins are a true delight. I have made different kinds of ‘hidden’ veggie muffins that were terrible, and this recipe really scared me when I saw steamed brocolli. My husband was an immediate NO. However, after I made them and my husband saw that our toddler LOVED them, he tried one and also loved them. A win for our family. I usually try to reduce the amount of white sugar because there is so much natural sugar coming from the fruit, but for the first time making them, I tried to stay relatively close to the recipe with some needed modifications. I made smaller muffins because they were for my toddler, and it made 2 dozen. I did steam the broccoli and used fresh. I thought that frozen broccoli would add too much liquid to the muffins. The below recipe turned out really well!

  • 1 cup flour, whole wheat
  • 1 cup flour, all-purpose
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or substitute honey)
  • 4 tablespoon butter, unsalted softened
  • 3 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, florets steamed
  • 1 small zucchini shredded
  • 3/4 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 medium apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a medium size bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside. **To note** If you want to add a little more salt or spice, you can. I don’t measure too accurately and really enjoy cinnamon. **
  • In a mixer or another bowl, mix the sugar, softened butter, eggs, vanilla and Greek yogurt. Beat well.
  • Steam broccoli until fork tender. Shred zucchini and squeeze with a dry towel to remove extra liquid.
  • In a food processor, combine steamed broccoli, shredded zucchini and carrots, apple, banana, and applesauce.  Pulse until thoroughly mixed to a thick puree.
  • Combine the fruit and veggie puree into the wet ingredient mixture and beat until mixed.
  • Finally, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined and wet.
  • Spray muffin tin with cooking spray or generously rub tin with butter or use silicone muffin cups.
  • Scoop the mixture into a prepared muffin pan.  Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full.
  • For mini muffins: Bake in a 375° F oven for 12-15 minutes for mini-muffins. For regular size muffins: Bake in a 375° F degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. **To note: cooking times are based on high altitude desert.**
  • Bake until the tops are slightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean or they bounce back when you touch them with your finger.

I took these muffins out after 12 minutes and left them to cook a little longer in the tins. I pureed my veggies down quite a bit because I did not want to see a lot of ‘chunks’ in my muffin. I also put a generous dollop of grass-fed butter on a warm muffin for best taste!

A Quick Thought

The spirit used the pastor’s words today and encouraged my soul. I have a 4-month-old baby. He is my first child, and my world is turned upside down. My daily time in the word has been sparse at best, and I have been feeling like I’m not good enough to stand in the presence of God. Today the pastor said, “God created you. Jesus died for you, and that is where your value comes from.”

I don’t have to be good enough. On days I read my Bible and days I Don’t, my worth and my value do not change. His grace is constant and consistent and unaffected by my failure or success. Praise God!

When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.

Ps 65:3

We Are Tired

Too tired to think of a better title. Four weeks ago our family cycled through COVID: first I got it. Then our 1-year-old got it. Then Dad got it. It took us out for about 4 weeks. Just when we started turning the corner, we agreed to do respite for a family over the 4th of July. Their 2-year-old girl who ” ” had allergies, gave us all strep throat. First the 1-year-old got it. Then I got it. Then Dad got it.

July 4th- making memories at the park
Trying to share a single seat car
This sweet 2-year-old was moved from her first foster family because the family’s oldest child was having a hard time sharing his parents, so for their family’s sake, they moved this little girl to another family. Reunification doesn’t sound viable. She has been through so much in her first 2 years of life 💝

So it took us another 2 weeks to cycle through strep throat, and just as we were starting to turn a corner, we had previously agreed to do respite for another family. We had a precious little 10-month-old girl stay with us, and praise God she was the easiest kid we’ve ever had with us because we were a sick, sad family.

Fun at the park with friends visiting from Hawaii!
Thank you Home Depot for making the best shopping carts for kids!
Two babes holding hands the morning we went to drop Maya off at daycare. Our last morning together.

We are now going to take a pause from doing respite until next month. As much as we want to help foster parents and orphans, we need to get healthy first. I guess I’m writing this blog post to convince myself that maybe it’s okay that we need to pause for a moment to get healthy, because it feels wrong. I feel guilty for not doing more to save and support orphans, but the drowning can’t save the drowning (or something like that). I see the value in getting whole and getting healthy and launching back into the waters with a life saver (or something like that). 😆


“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families…”

Psalm 68:5-6

Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Pancakes with Fresh Apple Topping

I recently started making homemade sourdough bread. If you know what I am talking about, I have a lot of discard in my fridge. So I looked up recipes, modified, and think this one works well.

Ingredients

  • 500mg sourdough discard
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Get a griddle hot and melt some butter on. Then mix all of the ingredients together, stir well, and pour batter onto the griddle. Make some pancakes!

Apple Topping

  • 4-6 apples, peeled, cut, and cored
  • Cinnamon, all spice, salt, cardamom to taste
  • 1/2 cup water

Put apples, seasoning and water in a crockpot and heat until apples are tender. Pour apple Topping over cinnamon raisin pancakes and top with butter, syrup, whipped cream, or anything else you like!

To note: I tried to make some savory pancakes, but the sourdough discard fermented in the fridge long enough that it was pretty sour, so making sweet pancakes was ideal.

Desires

[He] satisfies your desires with good things”

Psalm 103:5

According to the preacher in Ecclesiastes, God has placed eternity in the hearts of man (Ecc. 3:11). We are prone to seek and desire more of what life has to offer, but we will never be satisfied or filled up by people or things, which is why we are left wanting more. Only he can fill us.

Lord, let your holy presence fill our lives today. As a sacrifice we give to you all we’ve tried to use to become full: money, control, food, alcohol, people, power, status, image, pleasure, and all additional we are unaware of. Burn away everything that is not you as it will only leave us broken and wanting more. Fill us full today, and teach us to desire only that which can satisfy.