Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spicy Chicken and Plantain - Fill the Belly and Soften the Heart

My kids are spoiled.

Your kids are spoiled.

I'm not criticizing- I'm stating facts.

It's our culture. It's our affluence. We can't help but be spoiled.

If you make $35k you are in the top 4% of the wealthiest in the world. 50k? Congrats- you are the top 1%.

We are the top of the top. And that $50k really isn't a huge achievement by US standards.

How can we not be considered spoiled?

We can't help but be removed from the reality that is the rest of the world.

To combat this and open my girls eyes and more importantly, hearts to our brothers and sisters around the world Ive decided to take a few meals a month and eat like the poor of the world.

Each time we will pick a country and eat like the people of that nation. We will learn about the country, it's culture, it's people, it's plight. We will take time and pray for the nation and its people.

I had Already decided to do this in a smaller way based on what God has been calling our hearts to over the last few months. It was going to be just one country specifically, for personal reasons but I've been reading The 7Project : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

In it she chooses 7 areas of her life to sacrifice in. One is food. She chooses to eat 7 foods only for an entire month. To help her on her journey she has a council of friends who help her decide rules and projects. They also do the experiment in their own ways. For food month, the council picked the 7 poorest nations of the world and eats like them for the month.

And so my expansion began just one country to many and it became a monthly event rather that a one time deal.

To start our new project we chose Haiti. Haiti has a personal significance to our family and became the natural choice.

As I did my preliminary research for our meal (believe it or not I am not a master of obscure international cuisine) I kept hitting road blocks.

Naturally Haitian cuisine brings up limited- but delicious looking- results, I was not looking for just hatian cuisine.

We were to be eating like the poor of the country. Which in Haiti is about everyone but 100 people who all live on a couple blocks in Port Au Prince.

But I couldn't find (despite my google master search skills) resources on what the poor of the nation would eat.

Anybody could guess rice and beans- but since my kids ate that a few weeks ago and enjoyed it (and it could be the poor meal for every county and I'm looking to diversify) I wanted to find something more.

A startling trend began to develop as I added words to my search terms. Soon I was getting hits on specifically the diet of the impoverished of the island nation of Haiti.

They eat mud.

Mud cookies, mud cakes.

Literally. Made. Of. Mud.

I sobbed.

Only the very ignorant among us is unaware of the hunger that rocks the nations in this world. We all have the images of compassion international children eating meager portions of rice with a few beans interspersed throughout with their hands out of wooden bowls leaving no grain behind.

But mud?


3 meals a day.

These people live in a nation that was poor and deveatated long before the earthquake. Famine and starvation is not new to Haiti. It has suffered under corrupt leaders. It has suffered from lack of economy.

But the earthquake dragged this island nation to the depths.

This year Haiti was moved to the number one slot by the World Bank as Earths poorest nation.

Can you imagine?

The poorest of these beautiful people can't even afford rice most times now.

It's not just the quake. The rising oil prices have greatly impacted the nation. As does the maddening drive for bio fuel. Way to go liberals.

While we feel the pains in our wallets, Haitians feel it in their bellies.

With food prices up 40% in the Carribbean many find themselves unable to afford rice , which averages 60 cents for two cups (up ten cents from december and up 50% from a year ago)and have turned to buying the mineral rich dirt shipped in from Haitis central plateau.

Once used as an antacid among pregnant women, it is now a source of sustenance. Oftentimes the only source. After straining out rocks the dirt is then mixed with vegetable shortening and salt and eaten - often for every meal.

While it fills the belly it also brings it pain.

Being unable to obviously feed my children mud cakes (by the grace of God. Thank you God for your many blessings) I decided to just make a traditional Hatian meal and found a recipe on an orphanage site.

It consisted of chicken boiled in tomatoes and peppers and water served over rice.

Haitis rice is a far cry from the enriched rice we eat here. It's long and brown and -from what I've read from food travel blogs- tastes terrible. Not even the prized Prestige beer can mask the taste.

Oh and it's full of bugs.


I only had chicken breasts but they wouldn't be used typically.

I also made a side of fried plantains.

Plantains look like large green bananas. The flesh of one reminded me of a tam in texture and appearance while the other one had banana looking flesh. Apparently despite looking the same on the peel - the difference in flesh was due to differences in ripeness. Plantains are fried in all states of ripeness, so other than being annoying with different cooking times it made little difference.

Ella totally snubbed the meal. All of it. She didnt even try the plantains.

She went hungry until supper time.

Part of this experiment is also to get the kids to appreciate what they have.

Guess what - kids in haiti don't kid cuisine to pop in the microwave if they don't like the mud cake for the day and I'm tired of being expected to make four meals per meal.

Lest you find me too heartless- She also had been given plain rice in the event the chicken and sauce were too spicy . She refused to eat it, even though she loves plain rice.

Laci , my pickiest who won't eat chicken unless its breaded and fried by either McDonald's or chick fil a only- actually kept saying it was really good.
I'm not sure if she really liked the food or the idea behind it.

Laci has a heart for people of other countries. It's really neat to see her compassion at an early age. She's a spiritual kid for her age and I'm proud of her. And I take no credit, it belongs to her and God.

In any case she did like the plantains genuinely.

Being fried they taste like and interesting potato. They are very starchy . It's very potato like, yet slightly unique. And at the end of the flavor is a slight hint of sweetness (the depth of which is also determined by ripeness)

I suggest them for any meal. They're really actually good!

The girls all said a prayer for haiti and the Haitian people before they ate. I love when they speak from their heart.

Despite Ella not eating, and Layla eating very little, I feel it was a success. Our main goal was to expose them to other cultures in a concrete way and teach them about life outside of our blessed existence. I want to develop in them a compassion for other people and a desire to help and pray for those less fortunate.

We all can do more. If you're moved by the brief overview of the Haitian crisis consider looking into companies that benefit them.

3 Cords Haiti teaches women, many amputees or having other disabilities skills to provide an income. They sell beautiful bags and accessories.

Apparent Project another organization empowering the Haitians by teaching them workable skills and selling their goods. I'm actually partnering with them in the near future in conjunction with the call God has place on our families heart . More on that soon but in the meantime check out their site.

2nd Story Goods

Another organization same as the above premise: sustainable income through making beautiful things. Check out their bags and necklaces. Why buy from faceless corporations when you can get the same thing and give hope to people who need it?

The Hands And Feet Project

The Hands and Feet Project, founded by Audio Adrenaline in 2004, cares for 100 orphaned and abandoned children in the southern region of Haiti. Hands and Feet strives to provide family-style care for each child, giving each boy and girl the opportunity to reach their God given potential. However, our Children's Villages have reached their capacity. Sadly, we've had to turn away hundreds of children in need just in the past few months.

Love them. So inspiring.

Get involved, go be the Hands and Feet with them sponsor a child, donate.

Giving Hope Haiti

Do a one time donation, sponsor or co-sponsor a child or contribute to a families adoption costs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 25, 2013

The American Dream?

Stupid stupid. Deleted the first draft which was excellent :( and have to recreate. I've always been a first draft kinda girl. It comes out of me organically and is best fresh. Even in high school i said forget you prewriting and fkrst second and third draft. i just faked them. So I'm sorry this will likely lack the oomph of the original.

The American Dream is a lie.

And the church has fallen for it

Hook. Line. Sinker. Game over.

We've been told all of our lives to grab for the brass ring- the college education, the high paying job, the promotion, the next promotion, the big house, the bigger house, the hot car.

It's never enough go, earn, spend. Upsize, expand, upgrade-
The American Dream.

But what is God's Dream?

I keep hearing in the American church that Gods dream is for me to live... Well live what sounds mysteriously just like the American Dream- but what does His word say?

New Living Translation (©2007)
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

Ok it's a verse we all know and a verse that makes us all squirm, because we live in 'Merica land of the plenty, the more, the fabulous. Any middle income American can have so much amazing STUFF and all the shiny things catch our eyes and divert our attention from where it should be.

Most of us fall into the more stuff trap- at least time to time. It makes us focus more on working than on our families because it costs A LOT to acquire those shiny new things.

But it's just not what our focus is to be.

In and of itself the American Dream was once not such a bad thing.

It was the belief that, in this fledgling nation, if one worked hard enough to better himself, in character and career that he and his family would prosper. That a no body with determination and work ethic could become a successful somebody and that the future generations would find themselves better off than the last.

That - I do not think is wrong.

What is wrong is that we have allowed the American Dream to become a faith of its own and in doing so made it idolatrous. Not only have we set it up as a rival to the true faith , but we pursue it more than we pursue the things of God.

Furthermore, the American Dream of the 2000's looks little like the original dream.

The American Dream of today is not led by a desire to better our family and thereby making a stronger country but instead by greed.

We want what the others have. We NEED it. We have in fact, in the prosperous times (despite our economic downturn one cannot argue that Americans are prosperous far beyond the majority of the world) where are immediate needs are met have created superficial "needs" which are not needs at all, just greedy desires that allow us to keep pace in the stuff race with those around us.

We work ourselves to death to acquire bigger houses, pay ridiculous car payments and provide our kids with expensive clothes- all so we fit in with the rest.

As Christians our focus is to be on others, but we have allowed ourselves to become like the rest and focus on ourselves and making sure we all have what Everyone else has.

We've become like the rich man who couldn't leave his treasures behind to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22) What the rich young man didnt realize is what Jesus wanted was not to just take treasures from Him but lead Him to greater treasures in heaven.

Have we as Americans become this young man? Seeking Constantly to get ahead in this life while neglecting those of the Christian life?

What could we do with our time and money if only we stopped pursuing things and started pursuing Him.

We are told in James 1:27 that

New International Version
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

How many of the 147 million orphans could we help if we sought to live our lives providing our needs for our families instead of living in excess?

Am I saying we have to give it all away?No. I'm not saying never buy your kids a nice outfit or a nice gift. Get rid of all your flat screens and cancel the cable. Trade in your luxury vehicle for a clunker.

I'm not. (Im not but Jesus probably might be )

We live in America and we have been blessed. Living in America affords us opportunities others lack.

But I do think we need to stop living in the excesses of life.

Yes buy your kids new clothes. But do you need to buy them so many that they get worn once or twice at the most?
(So guilty of this)

Do you really need to upgrade your 46" LCD to a 60" led 3D or maybe can you use that money to give to a local women's shelter or a clean water project in a developing nation?

Can you get by in a Ford instead of Bmw and instead faithfully support your church's missionaries who are probably trying to serve Gods calling in some best up old bus?

How many bedrooms, baths and square footage do you need for your family? Do you really need to upgrade to the development property you've been eyeing or will your family be happy in your current home without the stress of the huge mortgage.

In the worlds eyes all these things are necessary to make us look better but if we start seeing things through Gods see we will see these material things are only temporary and the "happiness" they bring does not last and quite often brings with it more pain and stress and takes our focus from what is truly important.

Lets stop envying our neighbors and start being happy with what we have.

Stop spending on every want, living in excess and instead use the abundance God has granted us to bless OTHERS as He calls us to do.

A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor. Prov. 22:9

I'm sorry but paying your tithe and sitting in a church isn't enough. God wants us to live out this faith in a real way - in a way that affects every aspect of our life.

The world needs to see Christians getting out of the pews and out into the streets taking hope to the hopeless.

If we stop focusing on getting more stuff and pursuing this new American Dream of excess it will free up time and money to walk out our faith.

You may not drive in the nicest car in your neighborhood or have the biggest house but you will have an abundance of joy - one that is true and lasting.

I'm not condemning anyone. This is something God has been working on our hearts too , changing our view of what's important, what is real. We are just now beginning to walk it ourselves as He calls us to things we never saw coming. Already we have such joy and peace and just a desire to serve Him more instead of worrying about gaining all the world has to offer.

If any of this resonates in you you might be interested in

The 7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

I've just started reading it after God wrecked us and changed life as we knew it.

Also a good read (from what I hear, I haven't read it but some at my new church are)

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
David Platt

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Overheard in the Playroom - Part 2

I had too many saved up because I've been a lazy blogger, so I broke them up into 2 posts. Enjoy, and get some insight into why I always look so tired .

Layla with endless runny nose this cold season

"mommy, my nose coming out!"

I could have demonstrated with a picture. But I spared you. Thank me later.

Me putting Layla to sleep.

"Layla Go. To. Sleep."

Layla: " I am asleep . Mommy YOU go to sleep"

At Christmas time :

Ella watching rockettes:

"they're too slow. I'll show them how to dance someday ... Why do they keep kicking out their legs like the old days?"

Ella listening to us rant about all the crap Obama has done to the coal Industry - the fines etc.

"Obama made coal more expensive? Santa will NOT like that"

Ella after we stopped and talked to a friend we ran into and usually have lengthy conversations- however this one was brief.
As we walk away she turns back and yells:
"Thanks for the not TOO long conversation "

Ella - finger in mouth

"this would taste better if it were chocolate covered"

Laci angry over threats of getting rid of useless toys

"Looks like SOMEBODY needs to watch toy story"

I go to pick up Layla's toy minnie phone.

"No, no you touch it. I charging me Minnie phone "

Layla wiggling on the ground

"I shrimp. I popcorn shrimp"

At lunch :
Ella: "Why are you giving me hash browns?"

Me: "they're tater tots "
Ella: "I don't like them "

Me: " Every American child loves tater tots if you don't you have to move out of the country. "

Ella: "Well I don't know another language. "

Me: "you better learn to like tater tots then"

Ella: "Why are you giving me ketchup?"

Me: "Bc American kids eat ketchup with tater tots. You have to move to Canada if not"

Ella: Well that's not good. Heck to the no"

Layla playing with a stuffed Tigger
it unexpectedly starts talking. She throws him and runs away. she comes back later, kicks him across the room. he talks again. away she runs!

Ella calls Tony's sideburns hash browns . Probably related to our tater tot discussion.

Ella is "reading " me a book- about a dog.

"I put my paws up high and say to the Lord 'You are good' Christmas is coming "

Ella sees our dogs have chewed up her yard flamingo (yes she has lawn flamingos..)

Crying hysterically and screaming:
"Nooooo!! They're endangered species!!"

Seriously as soon as someone sees lawn flamingos out for sale this spring. Please lmk!! I have to bring hers back from the dead. She thinks they're recuperating for the winter in Florida- at The Villages. ... Floridas Friendliest Hometown

Ella about mean people she encounters:

"I wish she wasn't real. I wish she was a movie or a book story .... or a goat"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Overheard in the Playroom

My last post was heavy, and challenging - and probably offensive to some. I have three more in various stages of being finished- one which was awesome and I accidentally pasted over and didnt realize undo on iPhone was by shaking it . Sigh. Now I know.

So before I challenge half my Christians friends, alienate some and just bore and or confuse the others with my postings from the heart I thought I'd do another fun things my kids say post.

Ella as we drive by those hideous wind mills dotting our beautiful landscape. Grrrr. ( wind energy is stupid and not sustainable and kills trees and birds you dumb hippies)
Anyway as she saw them...

"Mommy, does anybody golf up there?"

-Another of any one hundred fifty three daily sibling fights (dear Jesus please make it spring . Homeschooling in winter is more than one should have to bear, especially when I'm in a recessed area void of chuck e cheese. Spring or chuck e cheese- ill take either Jesus)

"If she rips that ill be as mad as shush kabob in an oven ...a play oven"

...She said shush not shish.

-Looking at stars-

Ella: "Laci what's the way to never land? Is it the second star to the right ? "

Not funny - cute. Melted my heart.

For those who don't know- second star to the right and straight on to morning is the directions to Neverland on Peter Pan. Ill let this one slide but further basic Disney lack of knowledge will not be tolerated.

Also - part of a tattoo I'm getting to represent my girls. (Hush. idc what you think of ink ;)

"Pinkalicious is my favorite pink person ...except flamingos"

Ella has pink hair. She loooves pink!

( "Her daughter has pink hair at 5 AND she's getting a tattoo?? What is wrong with her" I can hear your judgement )

"Hey guess what my mom used to live in the 80s "

I'm not even sure if this was Laci or Ella. It just makes me mad and sad to think of the 80s as some far gone era just like the 60s 70s were of my childhood . Sigh. Old:(

"My mom and dad kiss too much"

Always said by Ella. Including the first time she had a friend sleepover- at my pastors house.... Oh and he couldn't wait to tell me....

Must be true

Huge fight breaks out in the playroom. Yelling ,scratching, who knows what else. You know normal every twenty minute occurrence.

This time - over a small sink and chameleon littlest pet shop animal.

Layla Is trying to wash the chameleons hands.

Ella : " can you just wash the frogs hands? hurry up"

Just a really strange sentence to hear, but glad our amphibians have proper hygiene skills.

- Ella dancing like she's on flash dance.

"I almost shanay turned right outta here!!!"

Is shanay a dance term? My kids claim it is. It does sound like a fancy way to make an exit. I may just have to shanay turn myself out of somewhere .

- Another play room brawl:

Ella: "Cinderella don't care!"
Laci: "Cinderellas a honey badger?!"

Honey badger

- classic random Ella conversation

Ella: "mommy what shape is my birthmark"
Me: " idk a misshapen circle?"
Ella:" hmmph. I want a crown"

Look at the princess. She was made for a crown birthmark .

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