The True Tall Tale

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“No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is – it’s true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story – the Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of this Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle, the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”

The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones)

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Creamy Vegan Potato Soup

potato soup

Wait a minute. This is a missionary blog, right?

Right. But even missionaries need to eat!

In all seriousness, I tend to stress myself out too often about making sure that my blog posts stay within the parameters of whatever the theme of the blog is. But as a result, I never post anything, because I talk myself out of posts that are swimming around in my head because they don’t “fit.” Well, no more! Bring on the random and completely unrelated posts! (Sorry Michael).

This is hands-down my favorite soup recipe. I love creamy soups, and I love loaded potatoes, but our new way of eating doesn’t really allow for those things. Or so I thought. If I didn’t tell you, I guarantee you that you would have no idea that this is a whole-foods, plant-based, nutritious, healthy soup. It’s lusciously creamy and indulgent, without any of the pitfalls that come with those qualities. The magic ingredient that makes this possible is raw cashews.

Yep. Raw nuts can make all your creamy soup dreams come true.

I’ll go ahead and admit right up front that I’m using a Vitamix to blend the cashews, which definitely helps me achieve the velvety creaminess that makes this soup so delectable. We could pretend that a Vitamix isn’t really superior to other blenders, but as Dolores Umbridge carved into our hands heads, one mustn’t tell lies. But if you don’t have a Vitamix (I’m sorry), just blend the cashews in a regular blender on high speed for a few minutes and hope for the best. It will be fine.

I’ll leave you with the recipe while I go repent of the sin of blender pride.

Creamy Vegan Potato Soup (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil (or 3 tbsp water if omitting oil)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 medium carrots, chopped

2 large ribs of celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried thyme

3 cups diced potatoes (I use baby reds)

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup raw cashews

3 green onions, chopped (optional)

1/2 tsp smoked salt (optional)

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat (omit if water sauteeing).

2. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until soft, about 5-8 minutes.

3. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.

4. Stir in sea salt and thyme.

5. Add vegetable stock (I used 4 c water + 4 tsp Vogue VegeBase)

6. Cover pot and bring to a boil.

7. Add potatoes, lower heat to medium low, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

8. Remove from heat.

9. Leaving potatoes in the pot, pour as much broth as possible into a high-power blender.

10. Add cashews to the blender, cover, and blend until creamy.

11. Return cashew cream to the pot and stir to combine.

12. Add smoked salt and green onions if using.

13. Enjoy!

From the Vault: Some Thoughts on Missions

I don’t plan to do this often, but as I’m in the process of working on some things I would like to post on here, I thought I would fill the silence by posting something I’ve written before.

I posted this in 2010 on my (lonely and neglected) blog. I stumbled across it today and thought it might like to see the light of day again. So here it goes!

Short-term (as in a week or two) mission trips are amazing. I’ve heard certain objections, particularly that the short-termers (out of innocent ignorance) might come in and disrupt or set back the work of the long-term missionaries in an area, and I’ve even heard “Why fund someone’s short-term mission trip? What can somebody really accomplish in one short week?” It’s true that it is difficult to make a real, lasting impact on a new area in such a short time. But the more I think about it, I think this is not really the primary purpose of short-term missions. Short-term missions are a unique and powerful opportunity for people to broaden their view of the world, God, and His love for His people. More specifically, short-term mission trips often birth a love for the work of missions and pave the way for God’s calling in the lives of long-term missionaries. This was the experience I had when I didn’t even know I was seeking it.

My freshman year of college, a senior who had been a friend and mentor from my freshman orientation ran into me in the library and asked what I was doing on spring break that year. Spring break was just in a few weeks, but I hadn’t even thought about it. He told me he was going with his church on a week-long mission trip to the Dominican Republic, and he asked me if I wanted to join them. I had never traveled out of the country, and I had no clue how I could raise the $1200 it would cost for the trip. I told him I didn’t think it would work out since I didn’t know where I would get the money in such a short time, and I didn’t even have a passport. Thankfully he didn’t give up on me, and after encouraging me that the money would come together, he even said, “Why don’t you come with me now and I’ll drive you to the passport office so you can get an expedited passport?” We did that, and I started asking people in my church if they would be interested in funding my trip. My church gave me $400 in the following days, and I was encouraged, but I still wondered where the other $800 would come from. The next day I went to a new dentist to have a filling done. We started chatting , and I told him about my upcoming trip. He asked me how much money I’d raised so far, and thinking he was just being conversational, I told him. He looked at me for a moment and then said, “I’d like to match the $400 you’ve already raised.” I was astonished. My parents and I were able to afford the remaining $400, and before I knew it, I was on my first non-domestic flight on my way to the Dominican Republic. I would like to write in detail sometime about what I experienced there, but I will sum it up quickly by saying that it permanently changed something in me. All of a sudden I had a bigger understanding of God and His creation and my place in it, and He gave me a passion and excitement for missions I’d never had before. There’s a fairly involved story about what has passed between then and now to stifle that in many ways, but I’ll save that for another time as well. The point I’d like to focus on is that this one-week experience where I made little (if any) impact on the people of the DR irrevocably changed my life and my faith. If it had not been for my friend’s encouragement and persistence, my church’s and family’s support, and the unexpected gift of my dentist, I would not have had this experience. In His providence and wisdom, the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of these people to put me in a position to have my heart and life changed forever.

There is a Caedmon’s Call (yes, them again) song called “Two Weeks in Africa” that ties in closely with these thoughts. This song says,”Two weeks, and we all can feel a calling (two weeks) to make the world a little smaller.” Later in the song, they sing, “We put the walls up, but Jesus keeps them standing. He doesn’t need us, but He lets us put our hand in, so we can see His love is bigger than you and me.” I feel like this was my experience, and what it has done and is still doing in my life is tremendous (and the topic of yet another future post). But if you are a believer and have ever been asked for financial support toward a short-term mission trip, I hope you will think about what I have written here and realize the amazing opportunity you have to be involved in advancing God’s kingdom through investing in someone to allow them the opportunity to discover things they never knew about their faith, God, and His calling on their life.

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¡Hola!

(Not to be confused with “Holla!” which you will never, ever, evereverever hear us say)

Many of you are probably wondering right now what in the world this blog is about. Well, for starters, its creation is serving as an announcement of the Next Big Step for our family (I felt like that called for extra capital letters).

So what exactly is this Next Big Step, you ask?

We are now officially pre-candidates for foreign mission work through World Witness, the board of foreign missions of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Yes, that’s a mouthful. So what does it mean?

We have submitted our application to become long-term missionaries in a foreign country. I realize this might seem like it has come completely out of the blue, but the truth is that we have been moving toward this point since 2003 (and arguably before). Much of it has been a private journey, with lots of uncertainty, emotional highs and lows, and (providential) setbacks, but we have finally arrived at a turning point where things are now moving in a more focused, accelerated direction.

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At this time, many things are still up in the air. We have not yet gone before the World Witness Board to be vetted and appointed as candidates. We do not have a set-in-stone field trajectory (though we are on the path to joining the growing World Witness team in northern Spain). We are truly in the preliminary stages of the official process. But we have received the official blessing of World Witness to start raising funds for a survey trip to Spain (required of us before pursuing candidacy), so we can now officially say it:

We are working toward becoming full-time missionaries to Spain.

I just sat here for five minutes staring at that sentence. It almost seems unreal. This has been such a long time in the making, and God has been staggeringly faithful to us during this process, holding us back when we unknowingly needed it (desperately) and giving us the ability to persevere when it seemed like we were completely directionless.

I tend to write novel-sized blog posts (to the chagrin of my husband), so I will stop here with this announcement for now. But I also promise in the coming days to give you more insight into what this process has been like for us, what our current situation is, and what the future might hold. In the meantime, we greatly desire and appreciate your prayers for our family as we stand at the precipice of a life-changing decision and jump, wholly trusting in God’s provision and sovereign plan.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

-Proverbs 3:5-6