Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lenten Soup, Balloons, and Giving Thanks

The Orthodox Church is in the middle of our Nativity Fast.  So it is no surprise to us that we have had some extra trials.  :)  One has been the flu we had at Thanksgiving.  I have noticed that we get sick as a family at every long fast.  We are learning to suffer.  Or, maybe we aren't because we keep getting sick!  Also, I was feeling a little "off" so my doctor upped my thyroid dose.  I felt so much better yesterday, more energy and could think more clearly BUT I laid awake for hours last night because I could not shut my mind off.  On top of not feeling right my neck has been acting up again.  The muscles are very tight and I can barely move it.  So, things like picking up a baby, doing dishes, sitting a baby on the floor, etc. are very difficult right now.  I was feeling pretty low and the self pity button was definitely getting pushed.  When I woke up today I could barely move my neck, I thought"how am I going to do this God? How am I going to take care of everyone?"  I was NOT being thankful.  I was unapproachable and wanted to crawl back into bed.  I started praying and my attitude improved.  I called my husband and asked forgiveness for having a bad attitude.  I put icy hot, peppermint oil, and a hot wash cloth on my neck.  I canceled school for the day, the kids at least were happy about that.  I rarely cancel school because I like the routine and I do not want them to think any bump in the road means Mom cancels but today I knew it would be better if we took the day off.  We did family worship, and that was encouraging. The kids went out to play and then I talked to my Dad on the phone and that really helped too.  When the kids came back inside I took out these little cups I had left over from a personal project and let the kids play with them.  Kids are so creative!  I suggested they make towers and they did but then they took it one step further.  They started to decorate them and then Athanasius started to tape his together and they gave me the idea to make shakers with them.  So we put rice in some and then popcorn in others to get different sounds.  Then the kids started playing with their balloons and  the creativity kept flowing, they asked if they could use some yarn to tie on the balloons.  "Sure!" I said.  Balloons are so sun for kids as you can see in the pictures.  But today I learned a lesson, a lesson I keep having to relearn it seems.

Life will have trials and life will sometimes be difficult at times but my thoughts are so, SO important.  They are either life or death to our souls.  As Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica said,

"Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture.  If our thoughts 
are peaceful, calm, meek, and kind, then that is what our life is like.  
If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, 
we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither 
peace nor tranquility."   
Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, The life and teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica. 

 Now about the Lenten Soup!  Doesn't soup with no animal, dairy, or oil sound amazing? No, no it doesn't, but it can be considered tasty. :)  I whipped this up for Clay last night for dinner.  There are some days in the fast you can have oil and fish, but yesterday was not one of them.  I will also say that some people cook with oil everyday and that is okay.  It is something you talk with your priest about.  And, one more thing about fasting, if you are nursing or pregnant you do not fast.  It would not be healthy.  So my plan is to just keep having babies and deal with fasting at menopause.  Kidding, totally kidding.   Fasting is hard, and I do not like hard things.  Anyway...start with coconut milk and a big can of crushed tomatoes.  Pour about 2-3 of coconut milk in. 

It will look like this.  Lookin good, right? No, not yet.

Chop up any veggies you have.  I did two carrots, a bell pepper, and three potatoes.  Cooking tip: News paper or plastic grocery bags help make clean up super easy and quick!  Dump everything in the coconut milk/tomato mixture.  Add your spices to taste.  I added salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin.  Let simmer on low with the lid on for about 20-25 minutes. 

All done!  It doesn't look too bad now does it? :)  There are a lot variations you can do here, for example, last week I added tilapia fillets.  Clay really liked that.  You could also add lime juice and cilantro, or crushed up tortilla chips on top.  Or, you could add a curry mix.  Just an idea to keep things a little interesting this Nativity Fast!

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