January 24, 2013

great-grandmothers and salsa

I'm in the process of compiling some of our most treasured family recipes from both the Bendel's and the Yancey's & publishing them in cookbook form. It has proven to be quite the undertaking, but I know I'll love it once I'm done.

I've stumbled upon several old recipes and memories from my great-grandmother, Granny B. I vividly remember being 5 years old and walking into her Tupelo, MS home & being greeted by the savory smell of fried chicken, black-eyed peas and corn bread. She passed in 2005 and it has been such a blessing to remember the Granny B I knew. The Granny B who cooked to show her love, cared for her chickens in the coop, and who feared the Lord above all else. To remember the Granny B I knew, before the dementia came and the Lord called her Home.

It's been some time since I shared a recipe here on the blog. I thought I might start sharing one every now and then, while I'm putting this book together. After all, I've already typed it and a little copy-and-paste action doesn't require a magnificent effort.

Today I'm sharing a recipe I stumbled upon last year preparing for a super-bowl party. It has become quite the staple for family gatherings. Much like that darn cheesecake!
We are more of a finger food kind of family. We rarely do the big sit down, formal dinner. Easter and Thanksgiving are really the only times that we even sit in the dining room. (it serves us well as Christmas present storage the rest of the year.)  We like to have lots of options, and often serve more dips and "snack-y junk food type stuff." So this salsa recipe is perfect for us. Minimal effort, fantastic result.


Restaurant Style Salsa

  • 1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 10 oz can original Rotel
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded or not (depends on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
  • juice of 1 lime
  1. Put all the ingredients in the base of a food processor or good blender and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve with chips or over tacos.

January 23, 2013

brides, brothers and God.

Last Saturday began normal, uneventful.
Wake, shower, leave for work, morning meeting, appointments.

The same thing I do every Saturday.
That's where my day departed from routine.
I had two bridal appointments and a bridal party getting fitted when I noticed one of my brides from last fall looking at the flower girl dresses.
I called over to her, "Sunni, you doing alright sweetie?"
She looked as if she had something she wanted to ask, so I excused myself from my appointments to check on her. Once I reached her I could see that she had her fiance with her. She said that she had someone she wanted me to meet, and that she had a crazy story to tell me...

Sunni: "I have someone I want you to meet, this is a crazy story. This is Cody. (points to her fiance)"
I introduce myself and greet him with a simple "nice to meet you."
Cody: "What is your dad's name?"
Me: "My biological father?"
Cody: "Yeah, your biological father."
Me: "His name is Kenneth Barnett, he goes by Butch."
Cody: (grinning) "I'm your brother."

I look to Sunni, she's smiling and nodding. I look back to Cody. I really look at him, and I know that it's true. He looks so much like our father. Instantly I feel connected to a human that I've known only for about 30 seconds.

They go on to explain that Cody's mom and our dad dated just after high school and ended up conceiving a child. Him. But Cody and our father didn't meet until 2 years ago.

As for how they discovered that I was in fact Cody's sister, that's an even crazier story.
At Sunni's initial appointment last year I "happened" to be the consultant available to help her. She's funny and charismatic, we had a good time during her appointment. We found her gown, finalized her look and did all the paperwork.
I remember thinking, "She's such a doll."
At the end of her appointment she and her mother, Janet, asked if I would mind to take a picture with Sunni to commemorate the day. This is rare, but does happen, so I smiled and said "of course!"

Later that week they were at a church function, where they "happen" to attend with my father. Janet and he were discussing the fact that Sunni had found her gown and that she got it from the salon I work at. My father, knowing I work there, asked her what the consultant's name was. Janet showed him the picture that we "happened" to take at the end of Sunni's appointment.

Seeing a trend here?
All of these events "happened" to fall into place, ensuring that I would in the end meet the older brother I didn't know I had.
But we know that nothing just "happens." The Lord's hand is evident in every turn of this story.
He makes all things work together for our good.

January 10, 2013

an un-resolution resolution

All this fuss over new year's resolutions has me thinking, do we have to do everything?
Do I have to do everything?
These questions have been heavy on my heart lately.

I'm a do-er by nature.
A non-stop work full-time, do the laundry, cook the dinner, rock the baby.... do-it-all-er.

I'm coming to find that I can do all of these things- but it's hard to do all of them whole-heartedly.
To quote a very smart woman "the Lord really wants me to do a few things well, instead of a lot of things without heart or passion."

In reflection I'm finding that I've been doing many things without the heart or passion that is deserved.
And this unintentional neglect has left many relationships running a little ragged and my laundry pile higher than I care to admit.

As a daughter of Christ my highest calling is to live by Him, yet I find that I'm increasingly guilty of living by my to-do list. Sitting here in my bed I count no less than 12 books within reach about "being a good mother," about "doing it right." There's a planner on my nightstand filled to the brim with appointments and obligations.

There's also a picture from last Easter of my sweet little family. An ever-present reminder of what I'm called to do best. Of who He has called me to love well.

This year I'm not making resolutions. Sure, I want to be healthy. I'd love to nail down a laundry system that really works for our family.  And I'd probably throw a party if I got Olivia to sleep in her bed through the night on a consistent basis. But what I want most is to wait, listen and follow. Not 3 things that I always do well.
I want to hush the lists, and uncertainty. To follow the Voice in my heart calling me to be who He has designed me to be. Because I'm pretty sure He's not going to be too worried about my to do list when I stand before Him. And I don't want to fall short on the things He has called me to.

January 7, 2013

Less us..

My momma-heart is proud today.
Olivia is growing and learning so fast.

With every passing day she teaches me something new. Showing me daily, the precious and sweet things of life. Singing in the grocery store, witnessing to my brother-in-law, saying grace over our Christmas dinner.

Most days are precious and filled with hugs and tippy-toe turns. Tea parties with sweet, stuffed friends. Watching her take care of her babies, making sure each one is perfectly wrapped in their blanket.

Some days are tough; after all she is a toddler. And a head strong one at that. I couldn't begin to count the number of temper tantrums, or cries of frustration. (From her and me, let's be honest)

But I am uniquely blessed to be this child's mother. 
When I was pregnant I wondered what kind of child she would be.
I wondered how she would change our family...  How she would change me.
I prayed over my belly- that He would use her and that her spirit would shine brightly for Him.
As she has grown to be the person she is today, three things are abundantly clear.
1. I love her in an insane, unfathomable, indescribable way.
2. She is not mine. She is the daughter of a great Father, who loves her far better and far more than I ever could.
3. She is watching me, in every way.

I saw something once that said "our children become who we are, so strive to be the person you want them to be." That may not be the exact quote- but you get the point. I pray that when Olivia looks at my life 5, 10, 15 years from now she'll see a woman of dignity, of grace.
A woman who loved the Lord first, her husband second, and her daughter more than she could ever put into words.
I pray that the legacy I'm leaving will inspire her. That she would see the "why's" behind every decision. That she would respect the wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend I am.
I live each day in prayer that He is molding me to be the best version of myself. For her.

This world is an ugly, broken place- and these babies we're pouring ourselves into; they all too soon will be watching it all unfold.
Friends I think if there's one thing we can all agree on it's that we want the best for them.
We want them to be happy, and healthy.
There are countless books written that will tell you how to be the best mother, the toughest mother, the fill-in-the-blank mother; and they're all filled with advise from well-meaning authors.
I've even read a few of them. Well, I read a few chapters anyway.

But I think the most important thing that we can do for these precious souls is to be who we were created to be.
To be honorable, and humble. Help little old ladies, and wash your hands.
Be true, and a great friend. Be more worried about who is sitting next to you than what you're wearing. Read the Word of God, and don't just see the words, but live it too.

Because, sweet friend, they see us, in every moment.
Let's make sure they see more Him and less us.