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Life is Grand. Life is Random. Life Hurts. Life Comforts. Life Gives. Life Takes. Life Loves and You're Not Alone nor Lost

Love The Rambler


Default Circles & The Grace Card-An Unavoidable Trap of Life

I think the hardest thing about this thing called life, is learning that people you think are supposed to be there for you AREN'T and should have your back simply DON'T. Its a hard battle and it hits even the closest people in our lives. No one is off limits, no one is exempt from this potential- in fact the closer to you,  the more knowledge they can hold to hit you harder.  Its a sad sad condition of the heart that burdens with a heavy brick of devastation. Its not even about the specific examples- its just realizing people aren't who you thought they were and grieving that loss is painful.  It's just a general realization the older I get, and the more and more people I think are in my world on one accord, they show out to inject injury. They take the opportunities to use, cheat, lie, steal, back stab and shatter the ideal. It's interestingly painful when its known that if every time someone did this and the response was to get rid of them, the result is complete and utter isolation. There would be no one left. Maybe mom- but for some, maybe not.  So we are left with choosing: 'To what degree of damage am I willing to accept?' and we keep those around us as a default....and I hate it....I hate every bit of it.  I hate being overwhelmed and busy with my time already running low only to have people waste it. Take it. Use it up and spit it up. I hate when you tell someone your heart and let them hear where you're at, and they just stomp all over it. I hate when you draw a boundary attached to a consequence and people test you- then blame you for the consequence they so eloquently knew about when they not only crossed the line, but jumped over it, spit on it, did the roger rabbit on it and back flipped over just for the hell of it three times.  Ya I'm being over dramatic... I hate when people are only your friends for a season and back out of years of friendship for something pithy and cheap. Boo hoo. Grow up. I hate when people act like you don't exist and just slide on by as if you've morphed into some ghost. I hate users and AskHoles. I hate when people ask you to help with their special event, but when its your big day- they send a regretful text message- or better yet ignore even a Facebook invite. They only need you when they need you and when that isn't on the table they are gone like the wind.  I hate sin I guess- that's what this is. Its the fallen man and woman always in need of redemption. I hold people to a high standard because I hold myself there. I'm not perfect but I sure do try to be the best I can be. If I hurt someone I say I'm sorry. If I have an issue with someone I try to go to them, and not just dance around the issue. If I have caused pain and anguish I try to make it up. Even when I'm tired and cranky I still go. I still show up. I don't bail. I guess I have to give grace so that someday I get some too. But I think I'm kindof getting tired of the grace card. What about the 'Don't be a dick' card...its like people just walk around speaking Christianese with Grace and Mercy that should abound so they can continue to just be rude, selfish and disrespectful. Well I call B.S. I call religious scape goat! I call EXCUSE EXCUSE EXCUSE....I call.....TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. OWN IT. You can make your choices, but you can't choose your consequences...even if you pull the Grace Card.    

Peas n Greens - My take on a southern delight

Image result for Black eyed peas and greensI was running late-as usual. But shoot! I needed something for the Gospel Choir Party that could cook while I was gone to school with little intervention, oh great, and I forgot to soak the black eyed peas overnight, great-I'm dead.

Ok SOooo sometimes in our mistakes we actually realize something even better! That's how I feel about this 'Peas and Greens' recipe! It was a fabulous mistake!   So this was my attempt at reconciling greens I couldn't baby all day and peas I had no time to cook. I ended up buying a few cans of already cooked black eyed peas and turned this into an amazing side dish/soup (depending on how much liquid you put in it)   It's SUPER healthy and omits the pork for any of you kosher rollers.

This makes a large family portion size for about 6-8+ (crock pot sized)- if you have a large potluck or something to go to I'd double it for a large aluminum pan size. If you are single or just a few- I'd halve it. It freezes and saves great too if you have extra! It can be its own meal, a side or a soup. A friend pours it over cornbread hey hey!

1-2 lb Chopped Nitrate Free whole meat Turkey Bacon (or real bacon- I just like this kind, I DON'T recommend the minced cheap turkey bacon, but its ok if you must. The whole meat one is often found in healthy sections of Vitamin Cottage/Sprouts/Whole Food type spots. I have also done a chopped up smoked turkey leg if you have it)
2 Can Organic canned black eyed peas (or pre-cooked dried ones you've gotten tender)
1-2 Large Bunches of Collard Greens (wash well and take off the stem/ chopped up-remember they look like A LOT but they cook down to almost nothing)
2-3 T. Beef Bouillon or use only 6 cups beef broth in pot (I love Better Than Bouillon brand jars in the bullion/broth section of the store- its a magic concentrated flavor punch)
2 can organic diced fire roasted tomato
3-4 T. Corn Starch fully whisked with a few tablespoons water
4-6 Fresh Garlic Cloves pressed
1 lg onion chopped
2-4 T. Olive Oil 
Black Pepper
Fresh parsley chopped 
Salt to taste 

In a small pot or small crock pot add 1 T. Beef Bouillon, about 8-12 cups water and bring to a boil. Stir in about a half of a chopped onion and 2-3 garlic minced and chopped greens.  Simmer covered for about 2-4 hours or until leaves are softened on med after boiling.  I like the crock pot because I don't have to keep an eye on it. If you use a pot just set timers to check on it every hour and make sure there is PLENTY of water in the pot (at least an inch above green line). If you are using a turkey leg you want to put it in this pot and pull off meat afterwards for the next step.

In lg pan saute olive oil and chopped bacon. Save some crispy bacon for topping if you like on side, the rest doesn't need to be crispy. Add in onions, garlic, for about 3 more minutes, combine greens and broth, strained canned peas, canned tomato, and remaining bouillon (2T), onion and garlic(3 cloves).  Stir well and let simmer about 5 minutes. Add in the well mixed cornstarch and water mix and whisk at boiling point. If the soup is not thick enough to your linking simply do more mixture and repeat until desired thickness.  Stir in fresh chopped parsley and serve in a bowl as a soup with extra topped bacon. MMMMmmmm


We Remember Aurora ~Three Years & 165 Counts of Guilty Later

As we waited for the vigil to get underway I stood behind the young lady and young man confined to their wheel chairs- dressed to perfection but dressed by someone else. My imagination could only construct some comic book scene of how it went down in that dark theater three years ago. Like BOOM. Maybe POW.  My mind couldn't do its horror justice. As the straps held him in from the chest, a straw at his mouth and his catheter bag to his right- my heart broke. As she spoke to those around her, bound on top of that thrown of heavy double wheeled reminder of her night at the movies. That could be me my son. That could be my daughter. That could be me.   How could this one person have caused SO much pain? Loss? Devastation?  My mind went to the depths of humanity and sadly to the power of evil and its incomprehensible grip when its wrath is unleashed with a fury. I wept, I ached, I asked 'why?'

The framed illuminated faces of the twelve lost,  the image of a baby stroller for the unfaced unborn child who was also taken,  made for thirteen and stood before each lively tree planted in their honor last year. Thirteen lives. Thirteen beginnings with thirteen endings. This evil took their heart beats pulse. This evil halted their blood flow vein by vein. This evil took their breath in but ultimately out. This evil took their future,  at least here on earth. No more new memories to be made. But OH how this evil couldn't take their life's memory. OH how this evil couldn't take their soul. OH how this evil couldn't take the impact on eternity in our world and hearts.

As I wallowed in the heated pain of this despair, all of the sudden-a light.  No it wasn't the lighting of the small white candles around me, but it was a light opening like a little window of God answering my question. Illuminated was both their faces as they chatted and talked and began to laugh and carry on as they waited too. Normal. Everyday. As any two friends would carry on. Her smiles to her family as they spoke and giggled- they weren't canned or staged, as they hadn't been focused on yet or put on a stage at all. Just waiting, passing time-like me.  The noise around me froze and all that was being shown to me was this whisper stating "this evil couldn't take their joy. Look! they smile and laugh and carry on too- there are moments of normal. Moments of happy. This evil has not won, however it may appear'  Their lives are unbelievably hard. The hours a day of pain and torment. Where the mind can see, the body won't deliver. Where the world must serve them when all they want to do is serve themselves. Basic daily functions become battles in and of themselves. YET GOD SPOKE: "DEVIL! You CANT take their JOY...you JUST CANT"....the verse 'touch not my anointed' came to mind.

Our church community planted living growing moving trees in Hope Park last year.  Just as their lives were living growing imprints on history. No marble statues- cold hard and immovable. These limbs reach out to the heavens and proclaim God's glory. These roots bury themselves deeper and deeper taking a stronghold under the earth for strength and growth. Their trunks stand firm and strong, no matter how forceful the winds may blow. They will weather the spring storms of Colorado, the brutal freezes of winter, the blazing sun of summer and the loss of needles in fall. But so will they bask in the warm sunsets, the cool breezes, the quiet chill and the new growth cones from rain may lead to a new generation. These trees will stand as the perfect representation of the memory and struggle these thirteen faced.

We remember three years later and were given a verdict of GUILTY on all 165 counts. As 165 counts was enough. There are 165 counts of pain every hour, every day for those that lived through that horror after the loss.  He wasn't considered insane. He knew what he was doing. He failed crazy tests. He gave no emotion. Maybe he was a lovely child or had a spark of love somewhere in his life. But somewhere somehow he ignored the 'energy' felt at the vigil. He denied the presence of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He acted on his own, with attention to his own selfish desires of hate, death and destruction. We can only hope that sometime in the depths of his soul,  in his lonely cell or before his immanent death- HOPEFULLY. HE. WILL. REPENT....but even if he doesn't life and joy and love and memories will outlive his hate. Evil Loses. Gavel Slam.


The Mac and Cheese Comprimise

Image result for bacon macaroni and cheese
So most mac and cheese' follows a path. You're either in the baked camp or the sauce pan camp.  I prefer a great compromise.  I do consider myself a connoisseur to the great twisted noodle dish absorbed in ooze.  From the deep south accompanied with cornbread and greens to varietal gourmet types garnished with tempura lobster or truffle mushroom and chicken Florentine. They all boast a unique difference and flare of their own. I believe truly the great compromise is what I've come to.
 I found that the saucy pan types were lacking that southern comfort charm of granny pulling a casserole dish out of the oven piping hot to be cooled before burning the mouth.  But then the baked path can easily, ever so easily get over dried and lack that smooth squish you get when you bite down on the tender noodles.  So I, not being good at accepting dichotomies- found a way to have my cake and eat it too.  This recipe-ish is a saucy protocol, that's followed up by a granny style finishing touch.  While there are infinite garnishing ideas to compliment this timeless classic, I prefer bacon. Yup smoky, crispy home cooked thick cut goodness...and that's it. I want only a minor compliment not an overpowering selfish snob upstaging the main star....

This recipe makes enough for one 9x13 casserole dish

1 Lb Pasta (I'm a purest and use only elbow pasta-but if you must use what you like)
2-4 T. Better Than Bullion Chicken Flavor (or similar chicken base/cubes)
1/2c each shredded cheese of SIX to SEVEN of your favorite cheeses (with at least one being american or Velveeta type processed cheese for a shiny touch) I like Munster, Sharp Cheddar, Jack, and either a Fontina or gouda. Go with your normal preferences on this. If you love a stinky sharp cheese you can even go with blue cheese or Parmesan type power as one. Swiss and brie are even options.  If you like more mild cheeses go with mild cheddar, cream cheese or calmer types. {Save a bit extra to the side for the topping}
4-7 Cups of milk 
 8 T. White Flour
6 T. Butter
1 lb Bacon diced/fried crispy
Optional: French Bread Crumbs with garlic powder parsley and a little melted butter tossed through.

Directions:  pre heat oven to 350
Boil large pot of water adding 2-3 T of chicken base
Add pasta and boil for 8-9 minutes (should be aldente and still have texture it will soften a bit) then drain and set aside covered with a bit of stirred in butter or oil in pan to keep from sticking.

-In sauce pan start by making a roux which is bringing the flour and butter to a toasty brown on med heat stirring every 30 seconds.
-Add milk to pot and whisk immediately to avoid clumps.  Add most of the milk and 2-3 T of chicken base, garlic powder and black pepper.  Bring to a quick boil and remove from heat ( you DO NOT want to boil milk longer than 30 seconds)
- Gently start folding in the cheeses until melted. You may have to put back over heat for a few minutes to keep the melting going.
-You also need to assess your thickness levels. Either add more milk or more cheese to get a sort of nacho cheese consistency.  You don't want milky watery texture but you don't want super thick fondue caramel texture either.
-Taste this stuff BEFORE you put it on your pasta. It should be yummy on all account.  So add more chicken base for salt or seasonings at this stage.
-add pasta into cheese sauce- you want the pasta swimming in the sauce not an over abundance of noodles or it will absorb the sauce and make your dish dryer in texture. Remember pasta is thirsty for moisture so er on the side of more goey than dry.  Save any unused pasta to the side.
-Pour into casserole dish, cover with shredded cheese, bread crumbs and parsley and bake for about 15 minutes. Any more and it may get a bit greasy. You can then broil the top with the bacon on for about 3 minutes until toasty brown and delicious!

This recipe is BEST when fresh! Since the noodles realllly absorb the sauce-  if you think you will be serving in stages or saving some for 'tomorrow' I highly recommend keeping the buttered pasta and sauce separately until right before use. Just a particular observation I've come too:)


The Vicious Cycle of History's Repetition

We fill ourselves with books and blogs and articles galore.  We can write, teach, preach, speak and regurgitate the 'meat' like Sunday's dinner.  We think we get it. We think we know it. We think we can teach it but worst of all we think we live it.  We are flawed. We let history repeat itself. We forget what is so close to our distant past. We judge so barbarically those of old as if their ignorance is so archaic compared to our present properness.  We learn from our mistakes, we get better, we know better, we are immune. We are civilized.

Yet when the walls fall down and the pieces come crumbling down we cower. Do we stand up? Do we fight? Do we voice our loss? Our pain? Do we defend the weak? Dare we risk our skin...
We hide under the trees great shade and bask in the cool. What is the point? It won't change anything anyway. They won't listen. They won't learn. We justify our inadequacy and our fear under logic. Under the petty shade of an umbrella of wimp. Justified Coward so nothing changes and oh how sweet history repeats its debauchery.


Alfredo & Country Gravy - MINUS THE CREAM! Cauliflower Sauce !

There are a few of these recipes going around Pinterest and when I saw them I thought "God is a God who answers prayers!"  I mean COME ON!!!?? Supposedly this packs on 50 total calories and under 3 g fat, over the cream sauce of 500 with 30+ g of fat!  
There are just some things in the world you know you will never really get to have too often if you want to be in any decent shape.  I get a little sad around ice-cream, milkshakes, cake, fried chicken, biscuits n gravy, and Alfredo sauce.  I just know its something I can only allow myself to have once in a great while.  This recipe can be made purely vegan or fully dairy free- and is naturally gluten free (cream gravy GF?!?!) . I do however in an attempt to replace Alfredo or an Italian type dish, think the use of a bit of Parmesan tricks the tongue into thinking its a full blown cream sauce, calories and all. Without the sprinkle of Parmesan and the addition of a bit more bullion it then tastes like an amazing cream country gravy.  


I used to live on such tempting things when I was under 23 and thin.  But now I know my metabolism can't keep up.  I can't make a habit of such debauchery. But I try my best to find WORTHY substitutions for the palate.  My other issue centers around dairy. I'm not intolerant, but its not good for my skin allergies. So I have to pass on it more than I can enjoy it.  The lactose is nearly gone in cheeses aged over 2 years so from time to time I will allow a nice aged cheddar or Parmesan.

Play around with these and see what suits your fancy! This made enough sauce for me and my kids- you could double for a bigger crowd.  Give it a try all the way to the table because at first I wasn't sold when I just tasted it by itself, but then after the serving of with pasta and biscuits!?  whoo hoo! Happy Girl!

1 lg Head of Cauliflower- steamed until fork tender, not too thick and not too soft

1-2 c. Broth (I love and can't live without 'Better than Bouillon' chicken base- use the veggie if   veganizing- if country gravy I'd make it a bit saltier than the Alfredo version)
1/2 cup Coconut Creamer or Soy Creamer substitute (NOT canned coco milk but unsweetened type for your coffee found in the dairy isles- see below)
5-8 Garlic Cloves (I actually roasted my garlic first and the country gravy option would use 3-5   cloves- I personally like the smokey smooth flavor of roasted garlic but you can raw it if ya like mega garlic or just saute it in a pan before blending)

1T Olive oil 

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley

FINELY PUREE ALL OF THESE IN A BLENDER OR FOOD PROCESSOR STARTING WITH HALF THE LIQUIDS, UNTIL SMOOTH CREAMY CONSISTENCY (Remember its easier to thin out this sauce than steam more cauliflower to thicken it- you can add a bit of tofu to this if you want added protein but go easy as tofu can have a sort of interesting after taste with this recipe).

Finish cooked pasta in this sauce in a pan on med low heat- don't over boil this sauce.  Serve and sprinkle each dish with a few spoon fulls of shredded Parmesan. Delicious with grilled chicken, shrimp, garden tomatoes and basil! If you aren't shy of cheese you could add about a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese directly to the sauce versus controlling the cheese portion per plate like I have to.

Cream Gravy:
Serve over biscuit with breakfast sausage crumbles or meat substitutes. Delicious on mashed potatoes, chicken and anything cream gravy goes with!

 Chicken, Vegetarian, Beef, Shrimp, Mushroom MM!                    Unsweetened Coco Creamer

Church Can Hurt

I wish I could say that church is only all the great things it is. I wish it was only friendships, community, the place I found my husband, missions and all the great things it really is.  But sadly it is more. It is just like real life. Not all its cracked up to be sometimes. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it aches. Sometimes, like in life, it ends.  While it won't wave my belief in Jesus it surely supports my belief we humans are flawed, deeply flawed and in need of great salvation.  I am flawed but sometimes I have hope that others will help me get out of that place.  Others wiser and more mature than I. They do.  And sometimes they don't.

As I read the below blog called "I AM NOT ANONYMOUS" all too many wounds came to the surface.  I have had this (below) happen to me in ministry twice already and I'm only 34.  Its the reason I am not pursuing a career in clergy.  Not to say someday God won't lead me back to church leadership, but for now I just need a break. After all I'm ok wrestling with the fact that many people out in the world are narcissistic, misogynistic, racist, power hungry, self centered, greedy, talk behind your back and are generally super messy people. I love those people thus I love ministry and missions.  But what I'm not in the mood for these days are that Church Leaders are also all these things. And I don't mean as in they have temptations like the rest of us,  but surely not that they condone or model this as legit and moral precedent.   I guess I do hold them to a higher standard. To whom much is given, much is required.  I don't believe they need be perfect, but surely those attributes can't be their main operating system.  Surely it can't be and shouldn't be. And when will they learn they can't hide these? They ooze from their being like stale liquor leaks from the pores of the alcoholic in the morning. Everyone knows, who is close enough to their stench. We are to be the light in the world, at least most of the time.

With time I am sure I will get my hunger back but for now I will teach young children and start my own business. Church on wed and sun will suffice for me. I'll drop my work in the offering bucket and volunteer where I see I'm needed. Bake some cookies maybe, and sing a song.
Take the time to read this below blog, it is very worth the time!