Summertime Sadness…to some degree

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Today was really, really, sticky. If there was an aerial view of us driving around in the Costco parking lot, – it would have brought absolute embarrassment to me. Shameful. I stopped in the middle of the shopping mayhem and screamed at the top of my lungs, realizing soon after my back window was wide open. I parked. Only to move to another parking spot to scream again. Then I cried. I cried and cried and screamed. I moved again to a different parking spot further from the mega box store, removed my glasses, turned to my kids and asked them with streams of tears running down my face, “How are we going to fix this? What are we going to do?” In the hopes my three children could provide some sort of child like faith answer or at least some kind of divine insight, but the only thing that came out of Nola’s mouth was, “We can’t.”

We can’t. We can’t fix this. So after apologizing, I put my sunglasses back on, reapplied my lipstick…and we went into Costco as if nothing happened. This is how we do it. We move through the motions, the noise, and the blurry expressionless faces of endless shoppers, collecting and gathering for their families, themselves, or for others maybe. Habitual cruise control. Habitually cruising through life, with the mistake of thinking we are in some-what- some-sort-of control…but we’re not. I can’t control my outbursts, my moods, or the continual chatter in my head. I can’t control the random looks my children give me, glancing secretly from the corner of their eyes to see how I am doing, questioning amongst themselves why I have inhaled or exhaled more deeply than normal, or what I  am doing when I place my head against the wall or lie myself on the floor to try to ground myself. The film script I see, read, and hear continually in my head…I try to silence it. I try…

But silence doesn’t really exist. To somehow numb the relentless scenarios or wordplays in my head, I decided to run this evening. I ran fast. I ran hard. I ran with head phones blaring songs of bubble gum and pop culture,  hoping it would somehow break through the depths of my dark thoughts or the endless questions I have incessantly entangling themselves like a morning glory nightmare, but it was all to no avail. I can’t run from this. I am in this untamed mess, being reshaped, repaired, and my God I pray, some-how, being restored.

I need grace.

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I can’t breathe. I can’t think. This is not the life I planned or dreamed of, but this is the life I live. Unpredictability at its finest. One day great, the other a complete mess. I can’t comprehend the un-comprehend-able, yet I walk through its shadows and webs blindly, a foreigner to this new normal, the normal I still gnash my teeth at and throw my fists towards and scream “ I DON’T WANT YOU- GET AWAY FROM ME!” There is no escape, unfortunately. Just the vacancy of this broken soul gripping desperately for a relief of some sort of tangible existence to mercifully cover me from the rawness death leaves behind after it rips the life of my present and future right from out of my hands.

Tomorrow I will be thirty eight. I did not expect thirty seven to be as it has. Perhaps my fault, I have often tended to not live with many expectations, because expectations when not met, hurt. In honesty though, I never expected to have to walk this part of my thirties in this manner and this crazily. It is frightening. Perhaps the intensity of the fear has not even yet permeated my brain, because it is just too painful to grasp, but I want to be made whole. I want to be real. And this thing is breaking me to the ground. Is this what it takes to be grounded? Is this what it means to walk in absolute surrender? Tomorrow I will return to the place where we celebrated Sean. My stomach is in turmoil. I feel like I will vomit when I walk through the doors of the facility. I don’t know why I thought that once we celebrated, I would never have to step foot in this particular place again, but this is life. Avoidance doesn’t work nor is it an option. I am realizing this at an alarming rate. My birthday. If I could avoid it. I would. I can’t.

Jesus, He Is So Good.

God is good

It is hard to believe the fifth month mark of Sean’s death is approaching. That day. The most significantly traumatic, most devastating day I have yet experienced in my 37 years of life. How do I feel? I ask myself this question daily. How does one feel when everything in one moment, one day, one second, completely turns a life upside down and shakes the foundations of everything we invested in, built our lives upon, and dreamed of, radically goes sideways and all I can do is stand in awe. Stand in awe of God’s goodness, yet stand in awe that this life is really mine and this has really happened to me. To me. It is me. This is my life, my story, and my witness of how in the most impossible situation, there is One who is able. He is able to help me get out of bed in the morning and whip up three lunches for school. He is able to listen to me talk my thoughts out repeatedly, obsessively, and dramatically in the fashion that I do so. I have tried to numb this. I have tried to escape this, but in all honesty, there is no escape and there is no way to numb the un-numb-able. To exist has never been an option. I don’t exist for the sole purpose of existence. There is a purpose and a plan and I graciously accept it, however I have not been doing this solo. Nor would I be able to do so alone. I have no words to express the impact of this amazing village that has intricately wrapped its arms around me and my three children and chose to do this life together with us in the grossness of death, as well as in the sweetness of life. And this village is not untouchable or out of reach, but they are the voice, the touch, the sounds of love that has allowed for me to go forward and not stay in the trenches of grief or bitterness. They are tangible. I don’t believe anyone can make it through life on their own, as a lone ranger. There is no way. I stand in absolute thankfulness of what I have as well as what has been taken away from me. I can not understand it. I don’t know if I ever will. Nevertheless, I remain thankful. I refuse for discouragement, defeat, or despair to walk through the doors of our home and rob us of what goodness we do have. We have lost so much, but have gained more. It seems so messed up. It honestly does. I close my eyes at times as I lean myself against the walls of our home and ask, “God, how am I to do to this? I feel so unqualified.” Yet, He is so faithful. There is no rhyme or reason. He is just so good. He allows in this time for me to continue to dance, regardless the circumstances that lie behind and before me. 

Image Credit: Pieter Breugel: Scene With Dance Around The May Pole

Don’t Let Me Down.

It is funny how opposites attract. Really. They do. Often my  friends that I get along with most are the opposite of who I am. That was who Sean was. The opposite. He loved this one song during his healing process journey, and what would I do? I would roll my eyes at it. However, now a different version of someone else sings the same song and yes, I am like a-ha…this is a great song. We were so different….for real opposites. But now this song that ties in the opposites into the positives not that we were ever negatives, but kind of, rings a different meaning. I am not let down by God. I won’t be and I could never be. This song, sung by a different artist, was a huge theme song to Sean during a very difficult time in his life…and now here I am, listening to the very same song, but sung in a different style, saying it to Jesus, come on…don’t let me down, You are so faithful. I know He shows Himself faithful, I know the Scriptures, I am not ignorant, for they have been my food day and night. However isn’t it fascinating one song could mean so much to one individual and and nothing to another until sung in a different way? Sung with a different urgency or passion, or even a different desperateness. However, here I am. Empty. Ready. Determined. Unshakeable. Ready for the darkest process I have yet to encounter. I am not a runner. I never have been. I am all about let’s get down to business….and business is ready to turn my world upside down…but I am here, arms up in surrender. I am ready to get down to business. Jesus, I trust you. Don’t let me down despite the frailties of my mind. You are able and so am I in you. For real. I am now the one in need of a miracle.

Cemented Heart.

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The ice princess, now cemented heart, about to freak out on the innocent and the translucent. I just want some relief, whatever that may look like. I don’t know if it is near or far, but the feelings of a trapped animal are all too familiar. I want out. I want out of the pain, the grief, the disturbance of this reality that I did not ask for. I want out. There is no way out, only in and through. Do I have the energy or stamina to commit to this process? In the natural, no freaking way, however, I chose a path in which I wanted the supernatural for everything, so this is absolute reliance on the Creator, not me. I can’t. I just can’t. I have nothing, but in Him, I have everything. I submit, I surrender, I give up. I really do. I don’t have one ounce of any thing, but nothing to give. I am D. O. N. E. Seriously. My hair is always clean, but there just might be one day it aint. That’s right, I just used improper English. Do I care? No. I don’t. My house may have lego here and there. Yesterday that would have made my whole world crumble…today…I don’t care. I really don’t. Step on it. That is what I am doing. Stepping on lego bodies, lego cars, lego pieces, I DON”T CARE! I am not in the head space to clean, to sweep, sweep, sweep, I am freaking done. Let this process begin. I have nothing to lose. I have already lost what meant so much to me. Let’s get down to business Jesus. I am ripped, wrecked and ready to roll. Despite it all, as Sean would have said to me at one time, I am still the greatest.

Beauty and the Beast.

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I want to scream, I want to dream, yet the extreme of this life has taken me further down a path I did not view or seem as one in which I would ever, if even I tried, to be ready for. Why? I don’t know. I know nothing, yet I know lots. It is odd. How can I sit and plan, yet really, what is it I am planning for? I laugh. Yet I cry. I do both. Is this a normalcy? Perhaps. This is my new normal. One in which  I have to embrace. There is no running from it. I have to go through it. I thought before the wilderness was a beast, but this new endeavour is beast part two. If only the soundtrack to my life could be as beautiful as that of Beauty and the Beast, but in this moment, who is the beauty and whom is the beast? There is no difference, for I am both. Both beauty and beast, wrestling through the pages of this chapter I find myself aligned with, but not by choice. I did not choose this, nor would I ever have. This was brought on only by the realms of this broken earth and I alone stand alone in hopes alone for an understanding that only Christ alone will be able to express to me in a way that I alone will fully get. My crashing point? Perhaps. However, I continue to crawl through this thick mud like it is a clarity, and at this beautiful moment, I can not even kid myself.

Image Credit: Jean Francois Millet: Death and the Woodcutter

Mascara down my face.

Ready? Am I? I don’t know much of much these days, but I hear the question. Ready? Who is it asking me this question? Again, I don’t know. We would often say, ‘It is what it is’, which transformed to a ‘It is what I say it is’, to now a ‘It is what I don’t know what it is.’ I stand expressionless in front of the mirror and habitually reapply the lipstick I feel more comfortable in than in my own skin. Hang up. It is the colour I wear. Hang up. I have been hung up and I have hanged up. The indifference of the emotional with the physical married together with the spiritual has become this outlet passed away with the essence of everything concrete I rested my head on. Am I grounded? Kind of? Am I solid? Maybe? Am I out of control? Have I ever been in control? I question the questions and answer the answers with more questions, because my hands are emptied with only the residue of debris, like gun powder of absolutes I was so certain were the obvious of the obvious. Last night woke me from a reality of a certainty that this seaside view doesn’t come without challenges. I have no strength to fight a good fight and march the grand march, however I do have enough breath to breathe by this fire as I lie my weary soul and bathe in its heat. I have nothing to give. I have preciously nothing. Am I ready to fully walk this walk and talk this talk? Not at all. However, as I bask in the heat from the only who can be trusted, I cannot be moved by this situation. I refuse to be moved by the results of this perfect storm and the devastation brought down on us viciously and without mercy, I just can not be moved. I wipe my eyes with my muddy sleeves and stare the adversary in the face with my limited strength, limited vision, and my limited understanding, with my rouge coloured lips, and continue this undertaking, regardless the cost, oh God, please Lord, show me some mercy.

Soft Place To Land.

When the waves threaten to over take or the momentum of a spiraling out of control-ness washes ashore to the very essence of my waking mind, I stand still. I stand very still. Pulse ringing in my ears, heart beating in my throat; I am absent of anything relative or anything present. I am only aware of the still standing, and the standing so still. But when the ground begins to shake and the  foundations my hands have gripped – loosen, scatter, and break apart, I realize the monstrous wave I was waiting for to take me down, crept up behind me unexpectedly, knocking, flashing, and twisting me endlessly. A breathless act and a merciless pull, I release myself into its currents and chambers, praying continuous for a soft place to land.

Avocado Black Bean & Chipotle Burger

Everyone has a favorite food. We just do. Think about it for a moment and imagine just now what that favorite food is….is it Pizza? Sushi? Mexican? Well, mine, believe it or not has always…since I was little….been a burger. Oh man. Seriously, thinking back to Popeye’s friend, Wimpy, who loved burgers, maybe that is when the burger fascination began, or Jughead and his love for burgers, yet his skinny frame screamed anything but that…if I ate burgers as much as those cartoons did, I would be in a heap of trouble. I haven’t had red meat for nearly five years, I have had to revamp a few recipes in order to find my go to. This would be one of them. Since our family had not had much meat in the house for nearly 9 months now, this is a reliable burger that even our kids enjoy…We don’t even have to bribe with this one! Seriously! Hope you like!

Avocado Black Bean & Chipotle Burger

Inspired By: Thrive

– tbsp coconut oil
– 1 black bean veggie burger
– 1 sprouted grain burger bun…we use Silverhills
– 2 Tbsp chipotle lime aioli
– sliced tomatoes
– pea or sunflower sprouts
– 1/2 ripe avocado, sliced and peeled
– 1 large romaine or red leaf lettuce leaf

How To Make the Veggie Burger

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked or canned black beans
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cups cooked whole grain rice
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large handful cilantro leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp ground corriander
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 Tbsp tamari sauce
1-2 cups fresh bread crumbs made from Silver Hills bread
Coconut oil
A couple of pinches of salt

How To Play:

In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, oats, rice, and nutritional yeast.
Mix thoroughly with hands. In a blender, combine the onion, cilantro, coriander, paprika,
mustard, and tamari. Blend until just mixed.

Add the onion mixture to the bean mixture and mix well, adding salt. Add bread crumbs and mix with your
hands until the mixture is firm to the touch and no longer sticky.

Form the mixture into 2cm thick patties.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a little coconut. Fry patties until lightly brown, about 1 minute or so per side.

Chipotle Lime Aioli:
Roast 1 bulb of garlic. Add the roasted garlic with 1/4 cup veganaise. Add 1 small handful of fresh cilantro leaves finely chopped
and 1 1/2 finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobe sauce with 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice. Add 1tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp of sea salt
and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Whisk all until smooth.
Enjoy.

Meal Plan. Take 1

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Meal Plan: Take 1.

I have not written a meal plan, besides the one on our kitchen chalk board, for a long time, but it was brought to my attention I have not
blogged about food FOREVER. So here we go…I will share the recipes after each day in case anyone is interested.
Sean and I kind of work together with these meal plans, for we have had a few months of trial and error. These would be considered “crowd” pleasers in our home. Any questions, please do not hesitate to send me a message and I would love to help you
out in any way possible.

Monday: Avocado Black Bean Burgers, on GF buns, with homemade fries and vegan Caesar salad.
Tuesday: Sage polenta and homemade marinara sauce, and steamed brocolli
Wednesday: Quinoa pilaf with Swiss chard and lemon
Thursday: Chipotle corn chowder and homemade olive loaf with thyme
Friday: Rustic pasta and salad
Saturday and Sunday: Mosh Posh of whatever is leftover….eeeks.