Tag: stories

Soul Food for Darker Days

It’s here – the darker season. We’ve turned the clocks back. The days are shorter, colder, cloudier.

Halloween is over, but Thanksgiving isn’t here yet.

We don’t have the lovely snow of winter to distract us and the gray days can make us feel a little Eyore-ish.


Hang in there! You’re gonna be ok.


Last Sunday was All Saints Day, when we as a church remember the “great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us. At our church we have a time of reflection and prayer as we scroll through pictures of those who have died this past year on the screens. This is a song that our worship leader, Heather Moen sang. It was beautiful and comforting.


Ironically, I was set to post a soup recipe, when I re-read this delightful quote in Shauna’s Bread and Wine that is just perfect:

“Soup is cold-weather-dark-sky food. Soup is peasant food – odds and ends, bits and pieces, a way to stretch a piece of meat or a handful of rice… Soup is the wool sweater, not the little black dress. It’s the cardigan with elbow patches, not the pressed shirt and tie.”

This soup recipe isn’t from her, but is a favorite from Martha Stewart.

Pumpkin Mushroom Soup (I know mushrooms aren’t everyone’s jam, but my husband loves them!)

4 TB butter

1 TB (or less) curry powder

1 lb mushrooms sliced

1 lg onion chopped

1/3 cup flour

4 cups chicken broth

2 #1 cans pumpkin

5 TB honey

salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in lg. pot. Add curry powder and cook 1 min. Add mushrooms & option and sauté.

Stir in flour and cook 3 min.

Sitr in chicken broth and pumpkin

Brind to boil and simmer 20 minutes.

Sitr in honey and simmer 10 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste. Can garnish with sour cream.

Makes 10 generous servings.


I wrote a post awhile ago about wanting to hear/see the better stories…the ones that inspire us to something higher. There are three movies based on true stories that I have loved lately. Take a look:

Victoria and Abdul


Goodbye Christopher Robin

And my movie maven friend, Heather, also recommended this one. I read the book and am going to see the movie today:

Same Kind of Different as Me

What have you seen or read lately that has been uplifting? Share in comments?

Have a great weekend!

Authenticity and Telling a Better Story

Recently I did something I rarely do. I got 250 pages into a book and quit.

I had invested a lot of time, but I just couldn’t finish.

It was well written, compelling historical fiction about the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, but I could tell where the story was heading and I just couldn’t take any more narrative about bad, sad choices, no matter how factual the research was.

Do you ever feel weary of authentically depressing news? Disappointed or dismayed over person after person modeling less than noble behavior?

Over the past ten years we have put an increasingly high value on “authenticity”. We want speakers, leaders, pastors, writers who tell us the whole messy truth. We want vulnerability and  transparency. No plastic saints thank you ma’am. This is a good thing.! A great thing even!

Scripture says,

“Confess your sins one to another…” (James 5:16)

“The truth will set you free…” (John 8:32)

But the stories we’re telling aren’t the only stories to be told.

There are true accounts of courage and sacrifice and service.

Stories can be authentic, but also good and inspiring. Not perfect or formulaic, but capable of lifting our eyes and motivating us to become our better selves.

This past weekend John and I were at an event hosted by Opportunity International – an organization that gives micro-loans to the poor to start small businesses, lifting them out of poverty.

The CEO of Opportunity shared this story:

Arles Mina is a client of Opportunity who now makes cheese curds and sells them from a hole-in-the-wall storefront in Bogota, Colombia.

However, there’s more to the story.

A young loan officer found Arles on the streets of Bogota. He was a drug runner for Pablo Escobar and was high on drugs when they met. The loan officer told Arles that he had a future and insisted he take a loan to start a formal business so he could earn a living and work his way off the streets.

Now, Arles says, “Opportunity has made me who I am.”

Arles received a loan from Opportunity. He repaid it and got another loan, and another, and another, expanding his business. Now he employs 3 women.

3 widows.

3 widows whose husbands were killed by the drug cartel he used to serve.

This is an authentic story. A story of redemption.

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

Yes, we should be informed, and the truth can be ugly, but what if we major on the kingdom stories of restoration, reconciliation and redemption so we may “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24)?

Soul Food When Everyone is Welcome

When I started doing “Soul Food Friday” I didn’t intend for it to just be focused on what happens around the table, but instead about everything that feeds our souls.

But truly, something very special happens when we show up as we are, and amidst half eaten chili or chicken we celebrate or cry or question.

We gather around a table, and when it’s good it’s messy, and real, and a little island of safety where our stories can be shared and God’s faithfulness recognized.

Everyone is welcome. Nobody’s perfect. Anything can happen.

So, this week…. Continue reading

All the Bible People You Don’t Like

I’ve been realizing lately there are a LOT of Bible People I don’t like.


Jacob, for example. He was just a jerk. And Gideon and Saul. I don’t like them. And I’ve never really liked Naomi.

They were SELFISH, and BITTER, and forgot all about GOD after He was always there for them! And they’re in the BIBLE for Pete’s sake!

My Bible reading plan has been MAKING me re-read about all these not-so-nice people who are just so….frustrating. I read and they’re about to do something stupid like worship a false idol or lie or whine and I’m like “No, no! Don’t do it!” but they do it anyway. Go figure.

And then it hits me. These not-so-nice-muck-ups are ME!

Maybe I cringe at the ugliness in others because deep down I recognize it as my own. Continue reading

Who’s at Your Table? Really

Last week we gathered some couples in our home for a casual dinner of chicken chili and ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce.  We lit candles, and a fire in the fireplace and it snowed outside.  The house was almost all decorated for Christmas except our tree wasn’t up yet.  It felt cozy and I loved getting to know these folks better, connecting them to each other.

One thing we often do when we have new friends over is to ask each person to write down a little known fact or hobby, or experience, or accomplishment.  We fold the papers, put them in a bowl and draw them out one at a time.  As we read them, we try to guess who wrote each one.

Afterwards, here’s a picture I posted on Instagram.


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Do You See This Woman?

There’s a rooster crowing over and over in the distance, and the trill of another bird I don’t know. Giant storks roam in the field. The smoky aroma of cook fires and bright tropical flowers in a brighter hot sun surprise my senses.  Mt. Kilamanjaro wreathed in clouds is in the distance.  Dark, friendly faces greet me.

“Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” (or Minnesota).

Tanzania.  The surroundings are unfamiliar.  Different. But God is here and remains the same.

And His Word remains the same too, but I don’t.  He seems to show up as a tour guide, pointing out unseen treasures especially in new places.

There is a passage I’ve been reading every day while I’ve been traveling, praying, “Lord what do You have to say to me?” (and yes, that’s a smudge of coffee and chocolate in the picture :))

Luke 7:37-47. The Message translation.  The story of the “harlot” who comes to a “Pharisee’s” house where Jesus is visiting, anointing Him with expensive perfume and her tears.  The indignant Pharisee is schooled by Jesus who calls her “impressive” and points out that those who have a lot to be forgiven, will have a lot to be thankful for.

DSC00612 Continue reading

The Truest Thing I’m Learning about Peace, part 2

Some things are just tough.

Like figuring out why people are fascinated with Snooki, or how to fold fitted sheets, or what makes some people able to eat 316 Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and not gain a pound.

Or, you know…how to achieve peace between everyone everywhere.

When it comes to the Middle East I keep wanting to say, “Lord I’m a bear of Very Little Brain” like Winnie the Pooh.

I have a long way to go, but God is patient and often a theme gradually emerges.  Yesterday I wrote

The truest thing I’m learning about peace is that keeping people at a distance makes it easy to demonize them.

But coming close topples the walls of misunderstanding.

This morning God reinforced this as I re-read the story of when God comes close to Hagar.

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The Truest thing I’m Learning About Peace, part 1

Last week I was driving around running errands, preparing for our daughters to arrive for a visit and for me to leave for Israel/Palestine.  I changed into the left lane to zip ahead of an old blue-green mini station wagon.  As I accelerated past I noticed the car was significantly bashed in as if from an accident.  A man was driving the car, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone.

Confession.  Here are the three thoughts that went through my head:  This guy is irresponsible, unsafe, and makes unhealthy choices.

All that from a 3 second glance in traffic!

If I had gotten close and talked to him I might have learned that he was on the phone with his pregnant wife who just went into labor.

And maybe it wasn’t a cigarette, but a tootsie pop in his mouth.

Perhaps he had been rear-ended by someone texting and driving, and he didn’t have the money to fix his car because he had lost his job in the recession.

Getting close might have given me a more compassionate posture towards this guy.

I have thought often of this 3 second drive by during my time here in Israel/Palestine.

We know from the constant stream of words on the news that there is division and violence, and passionate feelings of injustice among Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Christians, Muslims…But it’s hard to sort out the complicated details, so if you’re like me, you often tune out.  It’s just too much.

Continue reading

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