Monthly Archives: October 2016

10/13/16

Adventuring | San Antonio, TX Ed.

Did a little bit of travel and adventuring this last week, San Antonio, TX style!

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I love this city! And almost everything about it. It’s a rich melting pot of cultures and it keeps me coming back year after year.

The food. {the food could be an entire post within itself!} 

The people.

The weather.

Although, I could have afforded it to be a little cooler, not going to lie… it is October after all!

And the sites and the sounds.

Never been?!? 

Join me for a little Texan excursion…

Upon landing in San Antonio, take a deep breath, put on your walking shoes, and head downtown to the iconic River Walk for some shopping, people watching, and some delicious traditional Mexican food on “Restaurant Hub.”

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The River Walk is so iconic and a must-see.

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And that little boat ride? It’s pretty fun too, and you learn so much history and local know-how from the tour guides.

And I always make a bee-line for Casa Rio, where all those colorful umbrellas are on The River Walk.

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It’s “A Taste of History on the River” that has been family owned and operated since 1946! I just love that!

And I love this too…

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It’s the “Regular Plate” and it’s never been off the menu. It is a Cheese or Chicken Enchilada, a Beef Tamale steamed in corn husk, and Chile Con Carne served alongside steaming Mexican Rice & Refried Pinto Beans.

So traditional, and so unbelievably delicious!

A recent and new restaurant find is Boudro’s, also on the River Walk, and was a recommendation from one of my coworkers who said they had the best guacamole they had ever had. So, it immediately flew to the very top of my to-do list while in San Antonio.

And you know what?!?

It was just about the best guacamole I had ever had! And their secret? Nothing major or fancy, but they add equal parts lime juice & freshly squeezed orange juice to their guacamole. The result is bright with tons of citrus flavor and extremely flavorful.

Good Taste TV did a video with directions for Boudro’s Famous Table side Guacamole… maybe you too will mix some up sometime?

Good things just are not meant to be kept a secret.

I can’t wait to add Orange juice to my guacamole recipe next time and see how it turns out!

And at night? The River Walk is lit up with thousands of twinkling lights strung up in the trees that line the walkway.

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I think it’s absolutely enchanting.

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We always, always get out and walk San Antonio at night. The city comes alive once the sun goes down! Mariachi bands, street performers, and then, of course, this beautiful site…

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Remember the Alamo!

And on nights like these, it may be the one and only time you can get a picture of the front of the Alamo without tons of other people being in your shot.

But, make sure you come back in the daylight for the self-guided or audio tours and walk the grounds.

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It’s much more expansive than you imagine, and right in the heart of downtown within walking distance of the River Walk.

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Alamo Selfie!

#wheninTexas…

Don’t think that you are done with downtown San Antonio until you visit La Villita and La Mercado, the traditional Mexican markets. Tradesmen will sell their local goods, art, pottery, carvings. You name it! It’s all here!

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I love walking among the stalls and pausing to inquire about something. So, so much to see and learn.

This year, on my visit to La Mercado, or Market Street at locals call it, I purchased a Christmas tree ornament that is make entirely of corn husks. It’s a young girl dressed in traditional Mexican dress with a fruit basket on her head. Very Carmen Miranda.

Can’t wait to see it on my tree this year!

And just when your feet are beginning to tire, and you need a breather, pop into Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery in the heart of the Markets.

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Again, another restaurant and bakery family owned and operated since 1941! What?!?! You know they are doing something right here…

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And not just one thing either. They are doing lots of things the right way, and the way it has been done since the early 50s!

The picture above is their bakery case, and you see the line of hungry people salivating over all the delicious baked goods and pan dulce.

Sit down, take a break, and share a slice of Tres Leches cake with someone you love.

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Talk about an “afternoon delight!”

Tres Leches Cake is a traditional Spanish or Mexican dessert made with Vanilla Sponge cake that is soaked in 3 Milks, hence the Tres Leches, and then topped with creamy meringue or sweetened whipped cream and either strawberry or a cherry.

It’s served slightly chilled, it’s creamy, and decadently sweet. I highly recommend.

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And just look at this Market at night! Just beautiful!

So, that concludes this trip to San Antonio, but I’ll be back for seconds (and possibly thirds) next year. There is always something fun to do and a new corner of the town to explore.

So, I leave you San Antonio with a full belly (my blood type is pretty much type guacamole by now) and an even fuller heart. Thankful that you always, always give more than you take in return!

xoxo…

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10/04/16

Alone.

There is nothing quite like that moment, when even while you are surrounded by others in a group setting, you feel utterly and terribly alone.

The chatter around you reaches almost uncomfortable levels. All around you, enveloping you.

You sit at the table with your name on a place card almost as a derelict reminder- “Hi there! … you belong here!” It feels as if you are being mocked.

Many thoughts race through your mind at this moment, as the chatter closes in around you, and you have the sinking feeling that you’d rather be anywhere but here in this moment.

Conversation lines flow around you, but no one makes an effort to include you and your voice. The event goes on without you so much as factoring in.

You’ve been set aside. Unnoticed and alone.

But, there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. This, I have come to find.

And there is a difference in being set apart and set aside.

If you are set aside, you are forgotten, unimportant, overlooked, insignificant, inconsequential, and ignored.

If you are set apart, you are removed, distinguished, on reserve, sanctified, identified, and characterized.

It can be painful to be alone, yes very painful.

Physical and emotional pain can almost be as devastating to our physical selves as a very true physical pain or trauma. Sometimes the scars linger even more so.

Hannah was one such female in the Bible that understood and was well acquainted with the differences in being set aside vs. set apart, but that made her mantle no easier to carry, and her rejection and pain no less easy to bear.

Hannah was the 2nd wife of a man named Elkanah. His first wife, Peninnah, bore child after child for Elkanah, and Hannah remained barren and childless. And Peninnah took every chance she got to remind Hannah of that fact and her insignificance as a woman and Elkanah’s wife. Scripture says she “taunted her cruelly”.

Hannah would go to temple and pour out her heart and soul to God in prayer. We are introduced to her in 1 Samuel…

Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably. Then she made a vow:

Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.

12-14 It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, “You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!”

15-16 Hannah said, “Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.”

17 Eli answered her, “Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.”

18 “Think well of me—and pray for me!” she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant.

19 Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked.” (1 Samuel 1: 10-19) 

Wanted to make a quick stop here to point out, perhaps, my favorite part of this Scripture… “and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked.”

Isn’t that something?

I still find it absolutely mind-blowing that the Almighty God of Heaven & Earth is so touched by our prayers and pleadings that He would pause and begin making arrangements on our behalf. As if it is as simple as sending an email or booking a babysitter for this upcoming weekend. He made arrangements to answer her prayer.

20 Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, “I asked God for him.”

21-22 When Elkanah next took his family on their annual trip to Shiloh to worship God, offering sacrifices and keeping his vow, Hannah didn’t go. She told her husband, “After the child is weaned, I’ll bring him myself and present him before God—and that’s where he’ll stay, for good.”

23-24 Elkanah said to his wife, “Do what you think is best. Stay home until you have weaned him. Yes! Let God complete what he has begun!”

So she did. She stayed home and nursed her son until she had weaned him. Then she took him up to Shiloh, bringing also the makings of a generous sacrificial meal—a prize bull, flour, and wine. The child was so young to be sent off!

25-26 They first butchered the bull, then brought the child to Eli. Hannah said, “Excuse me, sir. Would you believe that I’m the very woman who was standing before you at this very spot, praying to God? I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life.”

Then and there, they worshiped God.” (1 Samuel 1: 20-26, The Message) 

Hannah was set apart, but never set aside.

She was never forgotten by God, although I am sure that the idea crossed her mind a few times. A few hundred times. Every time Peninnah taunted her.

She would wonder, if God is so good, and He is good to me, then why all this hurt? Why all this pain and bitterness and loneliness? Why her, and not me? Why me, God? Why me?

And I can relate. Really, really relate.

I should mention, here in my vulnerability, that this event, that I previously mentioned, was a beautiful rehearsal dinner and I was smack dab in the middle of married & engaged couples. Newly engaged couple to my left that were glowing with the excitement of their impending nuptials in early spring and talking of potential honeymoon destinations. Newlyweds to my right that were sharing their plans for the business they owned together, their future, and even the idea of starting a family one day and watching them grow up, appreciating hard work, and being in the business together. It was nothing short of inspiring.

And then, there I sat.

Why them and not me? Why God? Why not me?

In Lysa Terkeurst’s new book Uninvited: Living Loved when you feel Less than, Left Out, & Lonely, which I highly recommend, she discusses this very topic that my heart has been wrestling with. Head on. And I needed to see His truth and promises typed out in black and white scrawled out on the page.

“I know it can be painful to be alone. And I know the thoughts of being set aside are loud and overwhelmingly tempting to believe in the hollows of feeling unnoticed and uninvited. But, as you pray through your feelings, see if maybe your situation has more to do with you being prepared than you being overlooked. There is something wonderfully sacred that happens when a girl chooses to realize that being set aside is actually God’s call for her to be set apart… Sometimes, though, when God calls us to be set apart for another purpose, it’s difficult to believe God’s goodness in the hurt.” (pg 112-113)

I have often found myself staring down the barrel of that very thought. Not debating the existence of God or His love for me His child, I surrendered and acknowledged that a long time ago, but in my emotional and spiritual vulnerability and raw honesty have called into question If God is good and He is good to me, why isn’t He being good to me in this…? As Lysa puts it, “My heart struggles to make peace between God’s ability to change hard things and His apparent decision not to change them for me.” (pg 114)

When I begin to question, to doubt, and to practice this disbelieving, that is the moment the enemy steps in. He twists my raw fears into the thought that perhaps God really doesn’t have a good plan for me, like Scripture promises. He replaces the Truth with his hopeless, life-taking lies. He replaces peace with panic and stress, our faith with uncertainty and doubt, and finally our joy is overridden by discouragement and destruction.

Never let the evil one steal your joy! Your peace! His plans for you! Don’t waste as many sleepless nights and tear-filled journaling sessions distrusting the One who created you and lavishes His love on you, daily, as I have done.

Just trust.

I choose to trust every day.

And when I feel myself slipping, and trust is just about the last thing I want to choose that day, I ask for forgiveness. I ask for His redemption and His grace. He draws me near despite my pointed, jagged edges, my grieving heart and spirit, my saltiness, my anger, or disappointment. He wants all of that. All of me. He isn’t afraid. He doesn’t pull back. He pulls me close. He calls me daughter.

And step-by-painful step, He is leading me to a new place. A place of high ground and of Victory. Victory over my past rejections, my lingering heartache, my current doubt, and brings me to a sweet place where my soul can truly trust and true and everlasting rest.

Psalms 34:19-20 says that the Lord does not just deliver us from some troubles, He delivers us from them all! I want to knit this passage on my heart and bind up the cracks of my spirit with its words and proclamations.

I no longer want to live a life that feels scarce, that feels at conflict with everything I know to be true and hold onto tightly. I want to live a life that is abundant, full of grace and love, freely given forgiveness and grace to others, and one that exemplifies 3 things… 3 Truths that my life & faith is build upon.

  1. God is good.
  2. God is good to me.
  3. I trust God to be God. In all things, and in all situations.

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, 

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” — Psalms 23:6

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