"Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's in Your Bucket?

Hello, my name is Heather...and I'm a food junkie.
Or, as the cool kids say, a Foodie.

Although I know my love language is quality time, if a new category opened up in "food" I'm sure that would be mine.  At least, it's the way I think.  If you're sick or feeling blue, it is just in my nature to head to the kitchen and whip up something for you.  I love gifting food to others.  When trying a new recipe, I smile inside awaiting the reactions from the family or friends.

One of my most favorite gifts ever from Tim has been the mixer he bought me this past year.  And I'm sure we'll spend a long life together.  Well, Tim can stay too.  (wink)

As much as I love cooking and enjoy being in the kitchen, I absolutely adore trying new food experiences. When I travel, it is a rule that we can't eat anywhere we have at home.  It's my preference to not even eat anywhere we've ever been before.  And much of my planning in preparing for a trip is to scope out restaurants or dishes off the beaten path.  Forget the tourist traps, I wanna eat where the locals go.

When I eat around my neck of the woods, I'm known for rarely eating the same thing.  Even though I loved the customers who ordered "the usual," as a waitress, I try to order something new every time.  

The adventuress foodie in me has rubbed off on Noah.  He shares my passion for cooking and trying new things.  He just sometimes regrets what he orders.  And normally I'll trade with him.  Except for the latest mishap he received.

This past weekend we were boot shopping for his welding class and were strapped for time to squeeze a much needed dinner in plus make it across town to another store before they closed.  We opted for a Asian restaurant next to the shoe store.  A quick glance at the menu agreed with my budget and appetite so we were seated.

While Noah will try new things, he sometimes has a hard time choosing quickly.  This particular night Mom had to step in.

"Do you want sushi, Chinese, or Hibachi?"  (they offered all three)

"Chinese, I guess," he says.

After a few glances... "Ok, Noah, how about this, that, or this?"

He found something called Shrimp with Lobster sauce, which sounded decadent, but included no information so we asked.  Language barriers kept us from really understanding her answer but Noah decided to go for it.

SEVERAL minutes later, after I'd resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn't make it to other store, his food arrived.  And (gulp) it moved.

It wasn't alive, but it wiggled.  

A slimy, gelatinous mixture of goo was on his plate with a side of rice.  
If you're eating don't read this next line....

Basically it looked like an elephant sneezed out shrimp and crab.  

Yuck.  Ick.  And no thank you.

As adventurous as I am, I couldn't do it.  I give him mad props for even putting any of it in his mouth.  He took a few bites and then when he started playing with it, I moved it to the other table so I could actually finish my food.  

And although this particular story wasn't a yummy win, most of the time our adventures are good.  Part of the fun is just in trying and learning about different cuisines.  I've tried alligator, eel, octopus, turtle and goat, to name a few, fruits I can't remember the name of in Jamaica, and to-die-for risotto and escargot on a cruise.

But there's so much more out there I want to taste.  As such, I have a food bucket list.

Some things I just want to try to say I've done it.  

Pho - a Vietnamese noodle soup, Rocky Mountain Oysters (look it up if you don't know) and Caviar are among the top of my list.  

Other foods I want to try IN the location they're known for.  Call it a Foodie Road Trip.

Among them my tops are authentic Fish & Chips, a beignet from Bourbon street, and a deep, ooey-gooey pizza from Chicago.

So, of course, now I want to know yours.  Give me your top three, whether it be something you've always wanted to try.  Or, places you want to experience.  

My taste buds are waiting.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Faithful Friday: Loving the Unlovable

Have you ever been personally attacked by someone for no reason other than it is just the way they are?

Even when we know they are "one of those people," it doesn't take the sting away that comes from the prodding.  Like a caged animal, maybe you feel like they're taking an extra long stick and teasing you.  Poking you here and there, in just the right spots to make you growl.  Like the bully they are, they wait - until you take a breath and think it's over - just to pounce again.

Ever had an experience with someone like this?

Sadly, we've had more than our share.  Some worse than others.  One that lingers still and, in fact, had us shaking our heads just the past week at how boring their life must be that all they have to do is sit and stew about how to torment ours.

But, honestly, if you've ever dealt with even one difficult person, who makes it their mission to make you miserable, it is one too many.

Sometimes it's just words, gossip, rumors...the stirring of the pot.  Sticks and stones, you say, but it still hurts.  What makes it worse is when they attack you in other ways.  Perhaps your finances, your faith, your family.  That is when it makes it extra, unbelievably hard to love them.

I prayed for such a people yesterday.  This time, I'm watching someone being beaten down from the outside.  As uncomfortable as it is when it happens to you, to see ones you love being hurt - for no reason other than there is true evil in this world, is difficult to say the least.

And I'll admit it was somewhat with a clenched lip that I lifted them in prayer; but as I was pouring out my heart to God, in how loved ones were being treated, he laid it on in whispers to include them too.

Goodness knows they need it, or else they wouldn't act the way they do, but it isn't easy to pray for those who hurt us.  Especially in the midst of the storm.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."  Luke 6:27-28

Sometimes I ponder on why good people suffer.  Why the nice ones always seem to get knocked down.  To receive pain for no reason.  And then I think of Jesus.

Isn't that just what he endured for us?

No matter what I (or those I love) face in this life, it doesn't ever add up to the pain and suffering He willingly went through for each of us.  He chose to.  Just because He loves us.  That's an amazing truth I remind myself time and again.

To be in the midst of a trial and be able to say you are blessed may seem strange to someone who doesn't know God's love.  But He says it time and again in the Beatitudes.  Not a list anyone jumps to be on, but He's with us each heavy step.  And great is the reward for any suffering we face.

Hang on, dear friends, JOY is coming....

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