Tuesday, November 24, 2015


This year our family began a new tradition. It's called the Thanksgiving Tree. Every day we write down things we're grateful for, and hang them on the tree. On Thanksgiving Day, we'll read them out loud. Then the following day we'll decorate it for Christmas. More time with our tree, more time to practice gratitude.

This season of Thanksgiving is timely and meaningful for me. I've noticed recently that there is a buildup of frustration in me. I think this frustration is coming from my perception that my life feels scarce. Sleep feels scarce. Money feels scarce. Emotional energy feels scarce. 

But each day I walk by our Thanksgiving Tree, and think to myself, "What do I have to be grateful for right now?" Every time I consider this, I experience a shift in my soul. My heart expands in awareness of how much I have. I experience joy and contentment. Bitterness and anxiety melt away. I recognize the abundance in my life. I remember that every single good thing I have is a gift and grace from God that I didn't earn or deserve.

Here are some things I am particularly thankful for right now:
  1. A growing friendship with my parents. They are really quality people, and I love spending time with them every week.
  2. Getting to connect with family and friends over FaceTime. 
  3. My husband. He's my partner in life, and we have it pretty good.
  4. Great schools and teachers for our kids. 
  5. Our housemate Ryland. We have built-in community with someone who we genuinely love.
  6. A healthy, functioning body.
  7. Friends who volunteer to babysit our kids. 
  8. Resources to travel to California to spend time with family for Christmas. With a family of five, this is no small thing.
  9. My friend Cathy. In our friendship, we share, laugh, cry, and end up better people because of each other.
  10. A home where we can rest and welcome others.
  11. My three kids who each add so much love and joy to our family. 
  12. Hugs that are a whole lot more than just a hug.
  13. A computer, car, and vacuum that all work. 
  14. Our church community of risk-takers and faith adventurers. 
  15. A moment today of quiet stillness.
  16. Getting to spend time doing what I love. The big pieces of my life - writing, parenting, discipling people - are all things that I want to be doing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kalua Pork Pizza

Let me set the record straight about something incredibly important today, people.

Hawaiian pizza is NOT Hawaiian. 

Calling a pizza "Hawaiian" simply because it has pineapple and ham dumped on it is a true offense, and we need to put a stop to this nonsense.

I am saying this with all the authority of someone born and raised on the islands of Hawaii.

Hawaiian pizza has absolutely zero origins in Hawaii. According to my pal Wikipedia, Hawaiian pizza is an invention hailing from Canada.

Firstly, pineapple isn't even native to Hawaii. Like many other plants and foods, pineapple was imported to Hawaii. Secondly, the ham. Seriously? Ham is even less Hawaiian than pineapple.

And do not get me started on Hawaiian pizzas that utilize Canadian bacon instead of ham. Canadian bacon, as we all surely agree, is the worst meat in existence, and should never be requested as a pizza topping.

(Interesting side note: in my substantial research for this blog post, I learned that "Canadian bacon" is the American term for back bacon, a lean cut of pork belly and loin. So Canadians created the term "Hawaiian pizza," while Americans call the crappy bacon "Canadian." Everyone loses.)

Don't get me wrong - I am a fan of both pineapple and ham. I might even enjoy that combination of toppings on my pizza. Let's just rename that pizza something else that doesn't appropriate the name and culture of Hawaii.

ANYWAY. That's my rant of the day.

Let's move on to a pizza that actually does have some true Hawaiian flavor, kalua pork pizza. I created this for a midday lunch this week, and it was a hit.

For the pizza dough, I used my favorite French bread recipe, which is a very reliable dough with lots of purposes. The crust is topped with tomato sauce, kalua pork, peppers, onions, and a generous layer of mozzarella cheese. I'm not going to be so presumptuous as to call this the New Hawaiian Pizza, but it is pretty darn delicious.

Kalua Pork Pizza
makes 1 12-inch pizza
print this recipe

Olive oil
1/2 recipe of French bread dough
Tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup of kalua pork
1 yellow or red pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Punch the dough down so it deflates a little, and let sit for 10 minutes. Flatten the dough with your hands on a slightly-floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Stretch and press the dough until it won't stretch any further. Let the dough rest about 5 minutes. Continue to stretch the dough into a circle until it is about 12-inches in diameter.

Brush or spray the dough with olive oil. Spoon on an even layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Add the peppers, onions, and pork. Transfer the pizza to a baking sheet, pizza pan, or pizza stone.

Bake pizza until crust is browned and cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Generous Heart

Every night before our kids get into bed, we have "talk with God time." It's some space we create to listen to God and tell him what's on our hearts. Usually, our kids pray something simple, such as "God, please help Daddy have a good trip" or "Thanks for a good day." Sometimes we ask God if there's anything he wants to say to us.

The other night, Aaron's prayer was a bit different. He said, "God, please give Jade and her family a home to live in." I asked him about it afterwards, and he explained that his friend and classmate Jade currently lives in a tent because her family can't afford a home. We talked more about money, homes, and how sometimes people's basic needs are not being met.

The next day, I discovered Aaron counting money from his piggy bank. He has about $11 dollars, mostly from some birthday money and loose change he manages to find. He collected a portion of the money, put it into a plastic bag, and told me that he was giving it to Jade.

Maybe this shouldn't have been surprising to me. Our family talks a great deal about kindness and thoughtfulness. We affirm the small and big moments when our young kids share their belongings or extend kindness to people. But Aaron's desire to give away his money struck me as particularly beautiful, especially coming from a kid who is starting to understand the value of money. He has mentioned more than once that he wants to save his money for an iPad.

At this moment, I am challenged and inspired by my 6-year-old son's generosity. He doesn't have much, but he gives freely out of what he has. He sees a need of a friend, and doesn't just ask God to provide, but allows himself to be a provider.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the seemingly unending needs and hurts in this world of ours, and I become paralyzed. I don't do anything. Or at other times, I shut off my empathy response, and become solely focused on myself. Again, the result is that I don't do anything.

But in my heart of hearts, I want to be generous.

I want to value and cherish others. I want to see that what I can offer to others is important. And I want to more deeply understand that generosity has been extended to me.

This is my prayer today:

Thank you, God, for all that I have been given.
Help me to love and give generously.