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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Relying on Grace…(a simple lesson in faith, or “sniff and pee”…yeah, you read that right)

 Thus says the Lord:
The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness

Israel, when I went to give him rest.
The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Jeremiah 31:2-3 (NKJV)

I had a refreshing conversation with my Gayle this morning.  (I know, you’ve missed the adventures of Gayle, right? She’s well…). She confessed to me that she’s guilty of setting expectations which are, more often than not, unmet.  They leave her feeling disappointed and exhausted.  I told her to stop setting them.

If Gayle is the ultimate planner, über-organizated and in control of everything, I am so much more of a laissez le bon temps rouler kind of gal.  With age and hopefully the acquisition of some Godly wisdom, I am happily letting it go.  Setting expectations? Making plans? Nope!
Moros y Cristados con pollo, plantains, pickles and zaboca.  Yum.

DISCLAIMER-I’m not a lunatic.  I make plans. I am organized, but my objectives have evolved.  I plan for things to go well.  I expect everyday miracles.  I try to be aligned with God’s Will sufficient that when He moves, I’m out of the way and ready to be deployed (if necessary). 

Here’s my simple lesson in faith.

This morning, I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner tonight.  Usually, this is cause for considerable frustration.  My husband rarely expresses a preference, the children generally cannot agree, and I often end up making something that will satisfy me and no one else.  Today, I choose to be easy about it all, not to stress, to chill.  This lesson is a tough one, but I get why the stakes are high.  I must master this task…Patience.  Quiet.  Stillness.  Without stress or an ounce of aggravation, I bounced down the stairs this morning to greet the day, and my children.  With no expectation except that all would be well, I put the question to my children (they never agree and usually bicker). 

In about two minutes, they agreed that we’d have Moros y Cristianos con pollo (Cuban black beans and rice with roast chicken), fried sweet plantains, sliced zaboca (avocado) and pickled cucumbers.  No stress.  Easy.  Actually something I was both looking forward to making AND looking forward to eating. Now dinner is done, and it was (and this is a deliberate choice of adjective) divine. 

While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s instructive.  When you only expect joy, you are seldom disappointed.  It’s like the lesson I learned on Mother’s Day this year,
My husband was ill.  We couldn’t confirm plans with family.  Nothing we really wanted to do was working out.  But, in expecting good, and in seeking a peaceful and balanced place in it all, there simply was no set up for failure.  I was peaceful.  In facing anxiety, I was still.  Thank God.
In expecting only good, I got what I anticipated.  That’s about all the planning I need.  (Gayle, are you paying attention?)
In talking to my Gayle this morning, I compared our (human’s) obsessive need to plan and anticipate with the life of my dog.  I told her that when I put him on the leash in the morning and we leave the house, he does not anticipate meeting up with other dogs, which might, or might not, be friendly.  He does not anticipate fair (or not so fair) weather (nor does he seem to care.  I think he likes rain). He even trusts me to put on his coat if the temperature dips below 50˚F.  What does he anticipate? Doing his job.  What’s his job on a walk? To sniff and pee.  Sniff and pee.  That’s his job.  And because his expectations do not extend beyond his assignment, everything else he discovers is joy.  New things to smell.  New places to mark.  The security that I am with him and that life is good.  That’s about all the planning he needs.  He’s on to something. 

So, Gayle, you, me, now that we've survived the wilderness, let’s start relying upon Grace. Let’s stop setting expectations which, more often than not, go unmet. Let’s just stop.  With age and hopefully the acquisition of some Godly wisdom, let us happily let it all go.  Let’s find our Grace, and embrace that we have been given rest.

That is all, except for recipes for today’s feast, which will trickle out over the next few days.  Remember, we live abundant lives.  Our cups are never empty, and that is how we know that God is good. 

Today’s Feast: Moros y Cristianos (my version)

Back story- Moros y Cristianos (Spanish for Moors and Christians) or Cuban Black Beans and Rice has a thousand different iterations.  Rice and bean dishes are a staple of Caribbean, Latin, and African-American cooking.  While some cooks make it a one pot dish where the rice turns beautifully black during the cooking, the version I fell in love with and the one I make has simmered beans served over white (or yellow) rice.  Because it is so rich, I serve it with a simple cucumber pickle (to cut the richness) and a slice or two of zaboca (Trini slang for avocado). 

2 C cooked black beans (if you use a can rather than scratch, be sure to wash them thoroughly)
1 C yellow onion, chopped
2T butter
¼ C olive oil
About ½ C white or marsala wine
3-4 springs fresh thyme
2 cloves crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

In a cast iron or other heavy bottomed pan, sauté onions in about 1T of the olive oil.  Once the onions are soft and have picked up a little color, toss in the beans, the butter, remaining and olive oil.  Cook at medium heat until the beans warm through.  Add the wine, thyme springs, and taste, adjusting seasonings as necessary.  The gravy should be nicely emulsified and creamy, covering the back of a spoon.  Serve over jasmine rice.


  1. What a great post - you had me at 'relying on grace'. I found you through the Fellowship Christian Media Hop and glad I surfed on in. I needed a dose of this today.

    I'm going to follow you for more of these breathes of fresh air :)

    Patty from www.fanta4two.com

  2. when I read the lives of the saints I am always amazed how they give up all expectations...
    love your recipe..yum!!!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

  3. Great post ~ love the simple delish recipe ~thanks, ^_^ (A Creative Harbor)

  4. Thank you for this wonderful post! Btw, that plate of food brought me back to my Caribbean roots! Popping by from the hop.

  5. Great post and thank you for linking up with us at NOBH


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