“Am I doing this right?”, I asked cautiously and hopefully as I got into crow pose for the first time. “YES!”, my new friend encouraged excitedly. I only lasted a few seconds, maybe 1 or 2 breaths, but I was so thrilled.
One year ago today I had just returned from Holy Yoga retreat, a week spent in Williams Arizona at Lost Canyon campgrounds. That week held more for me than I ever imagined. I went excited to receive my 200hr Yoga Teacher Certification, but I left with far more. A greater physical and spiritual awareness, a sense of healing, a closeness to my Creator, deep and lasting friendships, a wealth of knowledge, tools to deepen my practice, and a supportive prayer community found me that week.
“You’re doing it right!” was a phrase I needed to hear repeatedly during my retreat week. I kept looking around at the other yogis, hoping my posture looked just like theirs, and quickly realizing it didn’t. I was reminded by the instructors that “if you’re engaging the right muscles, you’re doing it right.” Eventually I will gain the flexibility and strength so that the posture “looks right” but until then, I’m engaging the right muscles so, I’m doing it right.
I’ve spent a year doing yoga regularly, having only before practiced while pregnant with my second baby. There were some limitations to my prenatal practice but there are no limitations now… except for the ones I set for myself. There are a lot of times where I just *think* I can’t do a posture but once I finally try it, it’s not so bad! There are plenty of muscles that still need developing so that I can work on more advanced postures but for now, I like where I’m at. I’m really enjoying the journey and I realize I can’t be in this to “master” certain postures. There will never be a day when I have finally “arrived”; it is a constant strengthening and improving of myself.
I love this physical journey of yoga because it is so akin to my spiritual journey and relationship with Christ. Walking with Jesus is literally that: a journey, a path. There will never be a day when I have “arrived” to a metaphorical destination. He meets me where I’m at and we just walk together. Following Christ is a development of my spiritual muscles, daily drawing closer to my Creator, daily recognizing my brokenness, and daily following his example. I’m doing it right, because I’m seeking after him, listening for his voice, and saying YES when I feel called to something. (Lately, New Zealand and Creating Space.)
A year later, I can hold crow pose for a few more breaths but there is still plenty to work on. I’m not worried about it though, and I don’t compare my journey with anyone else’s. I’ve got my intention set on Christ, and I’m enjoying the journey, both physically and spiritually.
Think about a time when you have been most physically tested. What about a time when you were challenged spiritually and mentally? Looking back, how have you changed since then?
I LOVE chocolate. I remember my parents referring to me as a “chocoholic” when I was young because I would eat (and eat and eat) anything chocolate! So you’ll understand my disappointment when I realized my body was very sensitive to refined sugars. After being sick on and off for years, and suffering a cold/flu for months straight (I’ll write about this in more detail someday), I decided to cut out all processed foods from my diet. After a week or so I started to feel more like myself. Hooray, a solution!! Being the chocolate addict that I am though, I still crave sweet treats.
I found a chocolate pudding recipe from a great blog called Delicious Obsessions and tweaked it a bit to make it creamier like brownie batter for two people. Who can resist brownie batter; especially one that is good for you?! I also didn’t want to call it pudding because “pudding” here in Northern Ireland is more of a blood pudding/sausage type food. This is NOT that type of pudding! Get ready for some rich chocolatey goodness that you don’t have to feel guilty about!
This recipe is perfectly suited to share with a friend or loved one. My husband and I like to make a batch after we get the boys to sleep! YUM.
Refined sugar-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free…. it could even be vegan if you substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey.
This recipe fills 2 regular sized coffee mugs.
Brownie Batter for Two
5 small sweet potatoes
1/2 cup cocoa powder (if you have dark cocoa, use a heaping 1/4 cup instead)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
1. Bake sweet potatoes in oven at 220c for 45 minutes or until soft. Once cool enough to handle, peel and discard skins.
2. While still warm, combine potatoes and coconut oil in a blender or food processor.
3. Blend in all other ingredients until creamy.
4. Pour into two mugs and enjoy!*
*I like to eat it while still warm, but it is also tasty if refrigerated!
I’m sitting here stuffing my face with this soup and I think I’ve finally come up with a good name for it. Chicken & Sweet Potato Soup just sounded too boring and this really is a spectacular soup! I wanted to do it justice with a good name. It features sweet potatoes and chicken, celery, red bell pepper, onion, and herbs.
Before I got married I heard plenty of horror stories about other people’s mothers-in-law. Thankfully, I can truthfully say I don’t have any horror stories of my own to share. I really am blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law! She has always welcomed me with open arms.
From our unexpected engagement, to our unconventional wedding, and through the birth of our two boys, she has always been supportive of her son’s chosen partner. We share a love for cooking, Bible studies, Chaco shoes, books, and outdoor adventures. She is encouraging, offers wise counsel, and is so good at maintaining her friendships! A nurse by trade, she also cares well for people in her personal life. In a house full of picky eaters (sorry guys, but it’s true) she loves to try new recipes and was experimenting this past year with various soups. This is one she brought me after the birth of our second baby and I loved it so much, I just HAD to have the recipe!
My mother-in-law copied it out of a book somewhere and her notes at the bottom state, “Takes a long time to prep. Best soup I ever made.”
While it does involve a lot of chopping, I’ve started doing this a couple days before and just keeping the chopped veggies in the fridge. That way, everything is ready to go when I’m craving this soup! It is the perfect soup to take to someone who’s had a new baby, is recovering from illness, or who just needs a meal. It also works really well with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. I’ve made some adjustments according to the ingredients I usually have on hand. I hope you like it!
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped into 1/2 in chunks
1 14.5oz can chopped tomatoes***
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried marjoram or thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
a few handfuls of fresh spinach****
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the onion and leek. Cook and stir until softened, about 15 minutes. Add bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook/stir 5-7 more minutes.
2. Add stock, chicken, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, marjoram/thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 1 hour.
3. Stack spinach leaves and slice them thinly. Put a handful into each bowl and ladle hot soup over it. Serve immediately.
*After roasting a whole chicken and saving all the leftover meat, I make stock from the bones in my crockpot. I put all the bones in it with a quartered carrot, celery rib, onion, and garlic clove, 1 TBS of apple cider vinegar, and then fill to the top with water. Keep on low 24 hours.
**After roasting a whole chicken, I pull off all the bits of meat I can find and store it in the fridge. That’s what I use in this soup.
***I use canned tomatoes in this recipe because fresh ones don’t grow near me and they’re not always in season. It’s easier for me to keep cans of tomatoes on hand in my cupboard than pay exorbitant amounts for fresh (underripe) tomatoes that are often mealy.
****You can use kale in place of the spinach, but you’ll want to cook it with the soup for 3-4 minutes.