Bravery in the Midst of the Unknown

Raise your hand if you’ve been facing a lot of unknowns lately.

*raises hand*

Now, raise your other hand if you don’t like it!

Ha.

Do any of us really (really really) embrace the unknown?

Rewind: the first three months of this year (2020) were unknowns for me as I was job searching and following leads and navigating friend situations and spiritual situations (challenging my own heart where it felt off-balance with God) and physical stuff—please note I’m so over antibiotics and steroids aftermath, yo—and aaallllll the stuff that can happen to a marriage in the midst of that (are we okay? are we not?) Oh. And then there was this pandemic thing.

We are in April now, celebrating Easter, the Resurrection Day, and I feel like I’m taking the deepest breath right now of fresh air.

It was really dark and shadowy, and it’s like I’ve come into a clearing, and I can just… rest for a moment.

I want you here with me.

I’ve been praying so much. For you. For us. For me. For clarity amid all the voices that come with being an Enneagram Six.

For the world that is crying so much right now…

It’s no doubt that I fall back on what I know works to calm me when things go crazy. (My relationship with Christ, writing, talking with my husband thoughtfully, and specific music to mourn, to worship, to lament, to rest, to relax, to see past this mess.)

The “unknown” is just plain hard to parse.

Especially when the whole world is extra ugly and people are fighting their hardest to shine light.

I know I can’t help a ton right now. But I got a little, tiny bit I can share. It’s something. 😉

As I’m praying for you, my readers, during my Easter online services where I hear about a Savior that came, bled, and died to fix the human race through relationship of love, I offer the best I could come up with right now: a triad of songs selected from my solacing music lists.

They have helped me. May they be a hug for you, my Friends.

Especially those of you who are facing the ugly unknowns right now. ❤

 

 

Here’s a big hug. *hugs you tight, then looks you in the eye* God sees you and He’s near, no matter what you feel.

Now, talk to me. What are you doing to process this time?

Everyone parses life junk their own way, right?

Tell me.

Tell me in the comments if you want to. I’m listening. 🙂

 

Walls, Toilet Paper, and Encouragement – Part 3 of 3

My new practice has been to put encouragement on the back of the toilet closet door. (What else is that little bathroom room called where the toilet lives? I guess it might technically just be “the restroom”? Someone correct me here.)

Since there’s so much discouragement going round right now, it seemed like a good decision for my household.

Sure, I can tape up words or witty sayings, but to me, the prayers and proofs of God’s blessings and love are way more weighty. So, yeah.

I thought I’d take this last post of the series and share my printouts that reside there on that door. For our captive readers, and yours. 🙂

Prayer From Colossians 1

This is a prayer given to my Husband and I when we were going through a difficult time. We were instructed to pray it over each other daily.

God, fill _____________ with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. I pray this in order that he/she may live a life worthy of You, LORD, and may please You in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of GOD, being strengthened with all power according to your glorious might so that he/she may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the FATHER, who has qualified _____________ to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light.
(This Prayer is adapted from Colossians 1:9-12)

Prayer From Psalm 91

This I copied directly from our Pastor’s Facebook post.

Instructions are thus:

Here is the Psalms 91 prayer that you can pray over yourself and your family. Just put your name(s) in the blank and pray LOUD!

Psalm 91

Family in Italics

Our Declaration

1 We, the ____________, who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 We will say of the Lord, “He is our refuge and our fortress, our God, in whom we trust.”

3 Surely he will save us from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover us with his feathers, and under his wings we will find refuge; his faithfulness will be our shield and rampart.

5 We, the ____________, will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at our side, ten thousand at our right hand, but it will not come near us. 8 We will only observe with our eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

The Lord’s Declaration

9 If you, the ____________, make the Most High your dwelling— even the Lord, who is your refuge — 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For I will command my angels concerning you, the ____________, to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift up the ____________ in their hands, so that they will not strike their foot against a stone. 13 The ____________ will tread upon the lion and the cobra; the ____________will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because the ____________ love me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue them; I will protect them, for the ____________ acknowledge my name. 15 The ____________ will call upon me, and I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will deliver them and honor them. 16 With long life will I satisfy the ____________ and show them my salvation.” NIV

Letter From Loving Father God

This one is the most encouraging of them all for me, personally. It reminds me how loved I am, and whoosh I need that reminder several times a day. ❤

You can find it here and it’s translated into 70+ languages, too!

Oh, and they have it for FREE download. Yep.

 

I hope these help or give you ideas for encouraging the people in your household.

In light of the suffering and shutdowns this week, I’m doing a little thinking and sharing in three posts. Thanks for joining in.

I’m spending a lot of time praying. My prayers are for the world, so I’m praying for you, too.

 

Walls, Toilet Paper, and Encouragement – Part 2 of 3

Toilet Paper became really important in our house the other day.

Maybe it was prior to COVID-19 causing my fellow citizens to panic. But afterwards, definitely.

Maybe that’s why today, while pondering the dwindling house supply, COVID-19 social pains, and, well, the stuff deep thoughts are made of, it occurred to me:

Toilet Paper Cleans Stank.

I know philosophical waxing here might be unnecessary, but I’m going to drop a big one, if you will.

In the middle of all this chaos, humanity will always need something to clean up their messes.

Sometimes the lowliest piece of paper is all we need. Sometimes, something more substantial is warranted.

There’s an ongoing “stank” of attitudes, actions, and regrets that plague us.

Even in keeping the spiritual side out of this (which for a blog post, I can do, but IRL is not possible yo), it’s just an ongoing waltz of cause-and-effect.

Gross. Amen?

Which leads me to point two:

Toilet Paper Cleans Snot.

There is an ongoing stream of tears being shed by humanity.

I’m not sure about other countries, but here it is normal to use toilet paper as a tissue, acceptable to wipe up tears and snot.

But go deeper and farther.

Realize how many extra tears are being shed out of fear, death, and destruction caused by COVID-19.

I just want to gather up everyone crying around the globe right now and hug them.

Hug them hard.

Because what’s going on right now is horrible. Horrible-heart-broken-disgusting-terribleness.

Every time we even think toilet paper, we should be praying for those hurting.

Heck, leave a prayer in the comments!

But “comments” leads me to my last thought:

Toilet Paper is Like You: Needed.

A lot of people are going to read all the depressing news and pile it on top of the hard things that were already going on in their central world and they are going to go deeper into depression.

Stop it.

Don’t do that.

Get a hold of yourself.

Don’t give in to the negativity.

There was an answer the Great Creator provided all of us long ago by way of His Son. An answer so full of love and goodness, you can see light just by seeking that path, the Way

Wrapped up: you were not a mistake when you were born. He wanted you. He sees you. He has a purpose for your life. That means we must need your purpose, too.

Check on your neighbor.

Pray.

Do long-distance acts of kindness.

Give extra if that’s in your heart.

Do the good thing your heart has been aching to do since this whole COVID-19 thing started.

But, for all our sakes, don’t check out.

Don’t leave us.

There’s only 1 you.

And you can give someone else something needed, something only you can give.

So, yeah.

Be that.

I’m grateful to you for being that.

 

❤ Thanks.

Okay. Now I gotta figure out where our next batch of TP is coming from.

In light of the suffering and shutdowns this week, I’m doing a little thinking and sharing in three posts. Thanks for joining in.

I’m spending a lot of time praying. My prayers are for the world, so I’m praying for you, too.

 

Walls, Toilet Paper, and Encouragement – Part 1 of 3

Walls.

Meant to keep out.

Meant to keep in.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) kept out.

All of us kept in.

Walls divide.

Walls protect.

Is the boundary good?

Is the boundary bad?

If vulnerable and unloved, how can safety be found?

If kept safe and loved, how can free-roaming be practiced?

What lessons we learn,

What answers we get,

We are doing it together.

 

In light of the suffering and shutdowns this week, I’m doing a little thinking and sharing in three posts. Thanks for joining in.

I’m spending a lot of time praying. My prayers are for the world, so I’m praying for you, too.

 

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole the Way My Texan Mom Made It

Welcome to 2020, where every person deserves a go-to nostalgic dish.

Here’s my Texan Mom’s recipe for the dish she made us kids a gazillion* times while we were growing up.

It’s got the good stuff kids like (chicken and cheese) and the stuff they don’t (broccoli) hidden in a sauce that makes it all go together.

Healthy? Nope!

And that’s probably why it’s delicious.

That, and because it takes 30 minutes in the oven to meld together like real food. Happy sigh.

Check the bottom of this post for ways to prep this in 12 minutes. (There are, in fact, shortcuts and cheats.)

 

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole the Way My Texan Mom Made It

Bake Time: 30 minutes @ 350-degrees

Pan: 1 “9×13” casserole pan

Meat: 1-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (fully cooked and chopped into bite-sized bits)

Vegetable: 1-2 lbs broccoli (fully cooked and chopped into bite-sized bits)

Sauce:
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1c mayonnaise
2T lemon juice
1c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Topping: 1c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:
Cook and chop chicken. Set aside. Cook and chop broccoli. Set aside. (My Mom would boil these together in the same giant pot. Just an idea.) Mix the sauce together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees while you do the next step…
In the 9×13 pan, spread the cooked and chopped broccoli on the bottom. Spread out evenly.
Then add the cooked and chopped chicken over the broccoli and spread evenly.
Finally, over the chicken, add your sauce mixture as evenly as you can. Spread the sauce to all corners and into any gaps. As it cooks in the oven, it will seep down.
At this point, sprinkle the cheese topping over the casserole, or decide to add the topping on during the last 10 minutes of cooking. (I like crispy bits in my cheese so I add it early.)
Cook casserole in the preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.
Pull out carefully and let cool for 10 minutes before serving to adults, longer for children.
This serves 4 and might leave a bit behind for leftovers.
Leftovers will keep about 5 days if refrigerated properly.

 

Okay.

Cheats and shortcuts.

I discovered over the years that I could use rotisserie chicken chopped up to save me the “cooking chicken” step.

Then I further discovered I could use frozen, already cooked, already cut chicken, as long as it was barely seasoned. And those steamer bags of frozen and cut broccoli? They work just as well!

So, to recap: I can buy frozen steamer bags of broccoli and (pre-cooked) frozen chicken that comes in bite-sized bits, steam-bag cook the broccoli in the microwave while I make my sauce, then layer it all: steamed broccoli, FROZEN PRE-COOKED chicken, sauce, topping, then cook it in the oven!

The whole thing. Easy peasy, without the peas.

And just like the picture, I make this thing in bulk. Because y’all. It freezes really well. Just gotta cover it good and eat it before the 5 month mark.

All I’ve got to say is “Thanks, Mom!”

 

*My Mom actually didn’t make this bad boy but 1x a month. “A gazillion” was taking artistic liberties in light of nostalgic wishes. Maybe I should’ve said 8-12 times a year. Yeah. 

Inspiration Series 02

Inspiration has been coming at me in a rush this year, so I’m feeling the need to do a blog over the ones that stick. I hope this series has some nuggets of “inspire” in it for you. 

My year started with a bang.

So much so, it would’ve been easy to hide from all the new things.

Many. Many much new things. (Bad grammar for emphasis.)

If it weren’t for the ongoing messages from Father God’s heart to mine about being brave.

And the messages were everywhere.

Delivered to me through people, comments, random things I’d see on social media, stuff I’d read, songs I’d hear (maybe I’ll dump ’em in a playlist for you later), things I’d think I’d hear in prayer, and through car sightings.

(Uh, yeah. Still haven’t figured out the car one fully, but get this: everywhere I look, I’m seeing Dodge Challengers. Yeah, that might not seem like anything to anyone else, but to me, that car is closely tied to NCIS: LA, and the big ex-Navy SEAL that drove it. One brave dude, always running toward trouble instead of away from it. Anyway, rabbit trail over.)

One of the inspiring messages about being brave came from Ps. Tim Ross.

I love listening to Pastor Tim because he is so real and raw and funny. And his voice inflections just bless me. A true Son, that one.

He gave a talk at the First Conference at my church on growth spurts and David and Goliath. I simply cannot get it out of my head!

Yeah, it inspired me that much.

It’s too good to not share.

And maybe you were needing a kick-in-the-pants dose of brave, too. So. Here.

I’ve skipped into one of my favorite parts of the talk. [Minute 21:34]

Watch the whole thing on YouTube if you get a spare forty minutes. 🙂

endkevianaelliot

Faithful

2019.

Reeling, I entered it being a funeral coffin.

That’s what I called myself for months, because that’s what I felt like after I miscarried our fourth baby.

I hated myself, my life, my enemy, my world, and my God.

Everything felt like death surrounding me.

I laid in bed, day after day, night after night, crying.
Hating.
Wishing.
Struggling.

I personally knew God’s goodness. His faithfulness. But at that point, I wrestled with why we’d lost another baby. Why He’d let this one die when I cried out for Him to save.

Enter God.

From January 10th until January 19th, He took me, His highly-visual Daughter, on a series of imaginings. Through a whirl of fictional situations, so vivid in my mind I had to write them down. He whispered to me a title and encouraged me to add names. He showed me a place in outer space and asked me to share in the conflict. Who was good, who was bad. And at the end of ten days, I knew.

I had a story perfectly etched of 40 days in the life of an orphan.

I started writing.
In the middle of the miscarriage pain.
In the throes of hormonal angst.
In the vastness of confusion.

I became focused on writing only, and I hated anything that got in the way of it. (Especially the sleepless nights that meant I wouldn’t be able to write well the following day.)

Then, something amazing happened.

Midway through the first 50,000 words, my review of what I’d written came to a halt in realization. I was my main character, and God was the father-figure. He was holding me in it all and helping me heal. Same as the father-figure helped my orphan chara.

Everything shifted for me.

From hate to understanding.

God stood with me in my pain.
So intimately and carefully, He’d helped craft a story to lovingly draw me into my healing.
Healing—not just from the miscarriage—but from my insecurities.
I cried more.

I’d been seen.

And I was held.
Loved.
Kept.
Known.

It was beautiful in a way only a loving God could give.

Speed up to December 31st of 2019. Here’s where I ended the year:

  • The hormonal-crazy of the miscarriage completely gone – yay!
  • God expanded the story from 40 days to 40 years
  • God brought me a bosom friend to co-write
  • Co-writer and I wrote 431,073+ words in one year

Y’all.

God met me that January where I lay, angry, bitter, sorrowful, and lost, and gave me what I needed, and stayed.

It’s so like Him to love like that.

So very like Him to meet me.

So very like Him to meet you.

So very like Him.

“I entrust my spirit into your hand.
Rescue me, Lord, for you are a faithful God.
” Psalms 31:5 (NLT*)

endkevianaelliot

 

*Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Inspiration Series 01

Inspiration has been coming at me in a rush this year, so I’m feeling the need to do a blog over the ones that stick. I hope this series has some nuggets of “inspire” in it for you. 

Today’s bit inspired me to keep working on the things the Creator has outlined for me to keep my hands on.

Part of the reason I follow Love and the Outcome is because Jodi does such a beautiful job balancing her life as a Daughter of God, wife, mother, music artist, and master social media encourager. And when she doesn’t, she’s real about it and shares the pathway. The why, how, what, and trust she exudes is worth gold.

So, here’s the bit:

Mmm. So good.

Hit me right in the “Barbie schedule.” (My non-God-directed calendar plans. Pretty, but not up to Daughter Code.)

It was a friendly nudge to return to God weekly and daily to check what He wants going on.

Many hugs, y’all.

 

endkevianaelliot

My Passion

From a young age, I’ve seen the world through eyes easily delighted.
Knowing there is a Creator has only intensified the delight, because I can see Him behind beauty of all kinds.
Behind light.
Behind order.
Behind details.

If strings from each and every year of my short life were tied to one thing,
it would be to my delight shared with the Creator.
He shows me something—points to it like a Father, or a close friend—then we look at it and I tell Him how beautiful, or cool, or awesome, or fascinating it is.
Rinse. Repeat.
A strange waltz.

Sometimes what He shows me can’t stay just between us.
That’s where my waltz with Him becomes something for others to see: I write.
Like a drink offering, I pour it out.
Raw,
gutsy,
funny,
painful,
peaceful,
healing,
I take what He gives, birth it out, and share it.

If I try to keep the stories for myself, they burn my chest.
They roil in my stomach.
They churn in my mind.
I can almost see them.
Almost touch them.

I’ve learned, though, if I will listen to God’s leading and
put it into something I can share, He will allow me to feel the relief of the after-birth.
The peace of creative-pushes being complete.
The wonder of watching other people draw near and experience Him.

His pleasure is in us doing this “together,” and we are.

Yes, my passion is telling the stories God has given me to tell.

 

endkevianaelliot

You, Husband

To: My Mister
From: Forever Yours
Note: Forgive My Rambles on You

Do you remember the first time you saw me? An actress of a receptionist, I wondered if you’d see anything worthy in me, but I was so jaded, I decided later I didn’t care. Months later, your eyes were still on me, wanting to see my heart. Even when I didn’t recognize you as marriage material, you didn’t miss it. You came after me. You tell me I’m worthy, and I finally believe it. Mister, you are good at seeing people. I’m so grateful for that.

Do you recall our first huge fight? We were both so full up with emotional energy I wondered if we would ever come down from orbit. You ended up in the living room, I ended up in the master closet. But not for long. Why? Because you came after me. Carefully, gently. Willing to be wrong. Willing to be broken with me. Willing to forgive. Willing to work through it. Babe, even when you are right, and I’m wrong and being stubborn about it, you never get haughty or puffed—you reach out with love and grace. Who taught you that? I will always be grateful for how you come after me emotionally.

img_2507
My Husband takes pictures of statues of historical figures at the Bible Museum

Do you know the way you do things—simple things, funny things, serious things—it blesses me, all your quirks. How you are a kid with me: my playmate. How you laugh: nerd laugh! How you eat: my man with steak. How you run your fingers through your hair when your mind is a million miles away figuring out the latest puzzle. The way you hold your guitar. How you throw a sheet across the bed to make it: tucking corners in with a vengeance. How you pump the gas, always concerned with if I’m comfortable while you are attending to it. How you can’t stop talking to me when you are excited about something: I’m your closest confidant. How you pet my arm when I’m talking about something and you need to break in and interrupt, but you don’t want to hurt my feelings. Oh, the way you vacuum, load the dishes, throw the trash, sweep a mess! You might as well melt me like butter on a stove.

A thousand special things create you, the real you that I see every day.

I appreciate them all, but I can never seem to say the right thing to convey it. Imagine that. A writer that struggles to find the right words for the one she loves the most.

Maybe that’s the truth of the mess, the heart of the matter?

You are so perfectly suited to being my husband, my best friend, my playmate, that I’m lost in it all.

You’re a dream to me, Mister.

And I value you far beyond all these dreams.

The Creator gave me you, and I freaking love you.

Happy Birthday. 

Here’s to more years for you and I to explore, laugh, love, cry, grow, see, do, and create together.

endkevianaelliot

 

 

Stove-Top Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

I posted a pic awhile back on my Insta about homemade pumpkin spice latte, and a dear friend asked for the recipe. Figured a post with all the info would be best for sharing and sharing and sharing… Lol!

Ingredients:

4 c Milk
2 c brewed Sprouts Pumpkin Spice Black Tea; strongly brewed (This tea contains: black tea, rooibos, cinnamon, ginger root, lemon peels, cloves, nutmeg…… If I don’t have the tea on hand, I just put in the above without the rooibos tea, because I much prefer black tea by itself)
4 tbsp Canned Pumpkin (add way more for a heartier pumpkin flavor)
3 tbsp White Sugar (I use straight dark brown sugar)
1 tbsp Brown Sugar (Again, straight dark brown sugar)
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Cinnamon Stick (Powdered cinnamon is fine if you don’t have sticks on hand)
6 Cloves
6 Peppercorns (I smash my peppercorns or add more for more of a kick)

Instructions:

After brewing tea, add tea and milk to large pot.
Begin to warm up to medium heat s-l-o-w-l-y.
Add pumpkin (heat pumpkin in microwave some to make it easier to stir), sugars, and spices to the large pot and stir in using a whisk.
Cover and heat, stirring often often OFTEN until combined and really hot.
Remove any large spices, stir one more time and serve.

This won’t stay good over 6-8 hrs, so drink up!
(And watch for the sludge at the bottom of the cup. That’s the only warning I’ll give you. Lol.)

Yummy pictures can tag me on Instagram or Facebook.
Hope you enjoy!

endkevianaelliot