When John and I were first married I knew how to cook a little, but not great. I could usually follow a recipe, but it took all my concentration and I had to follow that thing exactly or dinner would turn out terrible. Timing was my greatest struggle. I couldn’t figure out how to get all the sides done at the same time as the main dish so it would all be hot and ready at the same time. I wasn’t great at budgeting for meals either – mainly because I had to follow each recipe exactly so I never just substituted things for what I had on hand (or left unnecessary ingredients out.)

I remember several times that we had canned soup for dinner because what I had tried was inedible. I also remember the kitchen being a total disaster after every meal because I hadn’t learned the art of cleaning up as you go. I got married really young. I went from my parents’ house to the dorm back to my parents’ house to my new home with my new husband. I was 21 with very little cooking experience when all of a sudden it was my job to feed us. But those learning years were a lot of fun and I stuck with it through lots of trial and error because I really do love cooking.

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I only have a handful of actual cookbooks because, well, pinterest. But I recently bought a new cookbook that I love and have already made several recipes from. Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food released a cookbook that I’ve found to be really useful. I think what I love most is that her recipes are just normal recipes that can be used for everyday. They don’t require hard to find ingredients, and they are a healthier take on a lot of traditional recipes. She also has two children so the recipes are already geared for a family of four – perfect for us!

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Also, it’s fall, and there are ton of soups in this cookbook. So I’ve made a few and each one has been delicious. I mean really, really, really good AND super easy to make. What’s easier than the crockpot? Last night I tried her potato soup recipe.

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One of the things I’ve learned over the last decade of cooking is how to change up recipes to suit our likes and what’s actually in our pantry. I did follow this recipe pretty close with a few minor changes. We don’t like the skin on our potatoes so I peeled them, we also prefer things to be vegetarian whenever possible so I used veggie broth rather than chicken broth. I also rarely measure things anymore… I kind of just eyeball them and can tell if it needs more or less of a certain item. The soup was absolutely delicious and our home smelled amazing as it simmered in the crockpot all day.

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We can also vouch for a few other recipes in this cookbook: the corn chowder, the tomato bisque, the pumpkin muffins, banana pancakes, the black bean tostadas, the eggplant parmesan, and the whole roasted chicken (in the crockpot!!) Next up on my list of things to try is the cinnamon raisin quick bread.

I should also add that Lisa Leake has no idea I’m writing this post. I didn’t get the book for free or receive any other compensation for this — I just really loved the book and wanted to share with you! Plus I keep tweaking her recipes, so she probably wouldn’t love that. If you want to order a book you can find it here!

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This morning I dropped both my little ones off at preschool and returned home to an empty house. I picked up the remnants of the morning rush, reheated my coffee for the third time, and sat down wondering what to do with myself. I hadn’t eaten yet, so I started rummaging through the cupboard to see what looked good.

It’s been a hard week for me. I’ve been having some health issues and got some tough news at a doctor’s appointment last week. Chronic disease can really wear you down sometimes. I’ve been a little extra edgy and emotional  this week. I blame it on the new medication, and that’s probably partly true, but I think I’m just feeling sort of raw.

I decided to run to the store and grab some things for tonight’s dinner and while I was there I grabbed the fixings for a big brunch. I got home and prepared that big brunch just for me. I sat down to eat in quiet and solitude – nothing but the hum of the dishwasher and James Taylor playing softly. It was delicious.

Sometimes I get so busy running around and chasing the kids and trying to do the next right thing that I forget to take care of me. If given a choice to care for myself or my family I’ll pick my family every time. I’d guess most moms are like that. A friend of mine checked in on me the other day and asked how I was doing. I told her I was at peace with everything but still had some sad moments. She knows me well. “Don’t forget that you’re also grieving about the news … maybe give your heart some time and grace that way too.” And with that my heart opened up and the tears started to fall.

Somewhere in the last week of processing things I told myself that I shouldn’t be sad, that it was really the best thing for me, that having faith meant just forging on and moving forward and not letting this get me down. But peace and pain aren’t mutually exclusive. I can have true peace and hurt at the same time. I can be afraid but still trust God. I can grieve a loss but still believe His plans are best.

Maybe you needed to hear that today too – that whatever is happening or hurting in your life right now is held safely in God’s hands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cry and feel all the normal emotions that go with hard things.

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  • Megan - Beautifully written. Thank you for being so honest. In prayer for you.ReplyCancel

  • Lee Ann - Oh Lauren,

    How beautifully you worded this. Peace and pain most definitely can co-exist. As you said, just because you trust fully doesn’t mean that your heart isn’t broken.

    I don’t know your news, and most certainly do not need too. Just know that you are being lifted up in prayer! He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds! (Psalm 147:3)

    -Lee AnnReplyCancel

    • Lauren - Lee Ann, you are always so encouraging! Thank you so much! <3ReplyCancel