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Thank you all for your kind words on my last post and all the social media!  It means so much to know that so many people loved my sweet Grandma.

These past few weeks have been pretty crazy and emotional around here, and I took a small break from blogging.  I would love to say I completed all these awesome projects and invented a new Indian dish and learned Chinese.  But I did manage to lower my personal house cleaning standards, so there’s that.

It’s just that anything I could write about or do (like laundry, obviously) kind of seemed irrelevant, you know?  Death shakes things up.  It’s sobering and revealing.

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When my Grandpa died nearly six years ago, I was away at college.  I immediately got in the car to drive home, and it rained my whole trip.  I was overwhelmed and trying to see through my tears and the rain when I cried out, “I’m so sad!  And Jesus, even You’re sad!  You’re crying, too!”  And then I realized how ridiculous I was.  I’m pretty sure the rain wasn’t Jesus’ tears.  And He surely wasn’t sad.  He was the One hanging out with my Grandpa!  And at that moment I was able to laugh.  I felt His comfort.

It’s been the same with my Grandma’s passing.  I’ve seen glimpses of God throughout this whole process.  My Grandma died right when spring was really starting to come around.  As we said goodbye to her, new life was budding everywhere around us.  A bird made a nest and laid eggs in my Mom’s front door wreath.  (She has since done everything but screw the wreath to the door and put up caution tape so no one disturbs it.)  We’ve watched as the eggs have hatched and the babies have grown.  I’ve watched as the tree in our backyard came to life with beautiful white flowers.  I’ve watched as baby bunnies have hopped across our yard.  Spring brings new life.

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That’s what God does.  He brings new life.  Even if it’s hard for us to comprehend.  What looks dead and gone to us looks completely different to God.  As we mourn and cry and lay to rest the 92-year-old body of my Grandma, all we can see with our human eyes is death and loss.  But if we can look through God’s eyes, we can see new life budding.  She has begun her life in Heaven.

As we struggle with the loss of a job or the failure of a life plan, all we can see are our dreams and plans slipping through our fingers.  But if we can look through God’s eyes, we can see new dreams.  We can see that His ways are not our ways.  There are better things coming.

 As we stress and fret and fight through a hurting marriage, all we can see is pain.  But if we can look through His eyes, we can see the new life just around the corner.  The triumph and beauty that follows the pain of growing.

As we fall back into past habits and old temptations, all we can see is our weakness, shortcomings, and failures.  But if we can look through His eyes, we can see that we are new in Him.  In our weakness is He made strong.

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So today, I’m aiming to look through God’s eyes.  To recognize the new life budding all around me.  To rejoice in the fact that I can rest in Him, in His dreams, in His plans, in His new life.

~Whitney

On May 20, 2014 · 3 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

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The past few weeks have been bittersweet for my family.  Two Fridays ago, my sweet grandma passed away.  And what a legacy she left!  She died at 92, having raised five boys, having traveled all over with my grandpa spreading the Gospel, and having read the Bible through more times than seems humanly possible.

It’s such an odd mix of feelings.  Weeping one moment and rejoicing the next.  My grandma lived a life poured out.  She spent her entire life seeking after God.  She gave Him her very best – whether it be through raising five rowdy boys (all of which have been involved in the ministry), through cooking for hungry students at Bible college, through attending church every single time the doors were open, or through being the definition of “helpmeet” to my grandpa.

She was a teeny tiny lady – at the end of her life she weighed less than a hundred pounds.  But her spirit was anything but teeny tiny.  She was known for always having a huge smile on her face and for being one of the most stubborn and strong women around.

I have no doubt she’s skipping around heaven right now, making her trademark “oooooh!” face as she delights in the beauty surrounding her.  I have no doubt that God said “well done, my good and faithful servant.”  I have no doubt that if she could speak to us today, she would encourage us that heaven is better than even our wildest dreams.

But I still miss her.  I still feel sorry for myself when I realize I won’t be buying her any more word search books.  Or that she won’t be grabbing my hands with her teensy soft ones as soon as I sit down to talk to her.  She held my hands the entire conversation, as if she were relishing each moment.

I miss her, but I can rest assured that I’ll see her someday.  Until then, I’m not going to let her testimony fade away.  I’m not going to forget the lessons I learned from her.  I hope to be a servant like she was.  Always willing to love and help and feed and clothe and bless and care for others.   I hope to joy in the simple things in life like she did.  She made every person around her feel like they were her best friend.  She smiled even when she was in pain.  She had a dedicated prayer life.  She raised her hands in church although the very act often wore her out.  She kept her Bible close by even when she could no longer read the words.  She hid chocolate in her Kleenex box, but she would always share it if you looked hungry.  She lavished love on her family members, even when she really didn’t have the money to be lavishing.  When the front door on our trailer would no longer shut, she bought us a new front door, even though hers would only shut if you pushed it a certain way.  She lived her entire life putting others before herself.  She was a Godly woman.  A servant.  A worshipper.  A wonderful, wonderful Grandma.

~Whitney

On May 5, 2014 · 11 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

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Little did I know, but a lot was riding on my taste in Indian food.  As in, my now husband took me to try Indian food for the first time on our first date.  He later told me that if I hadn’t liked Indian food, he wasn’t sure if he could date me.  Now, that may be a stretch, but not that big of a stretch.  My Indian Timothypal Singh Gothra loves him some Indian food.

And Indian food is not known for its ease and speed of cooking.

And I entered into our marriage knowing how to cook two things.  Three things at best.  I mean, my mom pretty much fed us thrice weekly until I sort of figured out the kitchen.  The kitchen made me nervy.

So it shouldn’t be a shock that every time I successfully cook a full-fledged Indian meal I turn into Tim Gunn:

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Today I’m writing the post that I wish I could have sent to the newlywed version of myself.  To the me who spent 5 hours cooking her first Indian meal and cried at least twice while trying to figure it out.  To the me who read that first recipe requiring dozens of ingredients and multiple steps and words that made no sense.

BECOMING-WHITNEY---tips-on-cooking-Indian-food-7To you pros in the kitchen, this post will have no revolutionary information.  Nothing groundbreaking here.  Just some tips that have made my life a bit easier.

First of all, wear an apron.  A cute one.  And – don’t be shocked – a functional one.  The one I’m wearing above is an adorable vintage one from my Bibi.  The added cuteness will make you feel like a 50s housewife.  As if there were nothing more glamorous in the world than trimming off slime from chicken thighs.  Now, we all know this is false.  But the apron helps you feel like it’s true.

The apron can’t be too cute or precious that it can’t be thrown in the laundry.  When I’m cooking Indian food, or any complicated or messy dish, I like to wear the kind of aprons that cover your whole front.  I wipe my hands on it constantly.  The Indian spice turmeric stains everything in its wake this undelightful shade of yellow, so washing your apron will be a must.

BECOMING-WHITNEY---tips-on-cooking-Indian-food-3I also like to read through all the recipes a day in advance of the cooking event.  For instance, on the day I took these pictures, I made chicken curry, peas pulao, curried cauliflower, raita, and chapati.  The day before, I read the recipes for all of these and tried to do as many of the steps ahead as possible.  There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a recipe and realizing that you should have been marinating the chicken for an hour or that you need to flambé something and you have no idea what that means.  Read the recipe ahead of time. It’s your friend. Ha!

One of the biggest helps to me in cooking a complicated meal is planning out the recipe steps.  For this meal I trimmed the chicken first and marinated it, then I made the dough for the bread, then I chopped the cauliflower, then I went back to the chicken and started on the curry.  If you’re making a meal with a lot of different sides, having a plan in place for when you will start everything is the best way to ensure that everything is finished at the same time.

Now I usually plan the steps in my head, but when I first started cooking I would write them out on paper.  If it was a super complicated meal or it was for a special occasion, I would even label each step with what time it needed to be done by.  4:00 – start marinating chicken.  4:14 – make the chapati dough.  4:45 – chop the cauliflower.

This sounds like a lot of extra work, but it really takes the stress away!

BECOMING-WHITNEY---tips-on-cooking-Indian-food-5Also, know thyself.  If you get super stressed out about new things in the kitchen, do not try to cook this super complicated dish right before company comes over.  I’ve tried it.  And no one wants to eat food created by a weepy panic-eyed chef.

I’ve tried to figure out the things in the kitchen that are the hardest for me, and then give myself plenty of grace.  The biggest one is chicken trimming.  Chicken thighs are one of the best cuts of meat to use in curry, but have you ever seen a chicken thigh?  It’s disgusting.  And I have to trim off as much of the grossness as possible or I can’t eat it.  So when I’m making Indian food, I give myself like thirty minutes per pound of chicken that I have to trim.  That way I don’t feel rushed, and I don’t feel so stressed.

BECOMING-WHITNEY---tips-on-cooking-Indian-food-1Now this isn’t groundbreaking advice, but its crucial to those complicated recipes.  Get all of your ingredients together before you even start.  Measure everything out, chop it all up, stir it together, strain it, roast it, mash it – whatever needs to be done to it before you use it in your recipe.  That way you won’t have to waste time searching your pantry for mustard seeds or coriander powder.  It’s right there waiting for you to dump in to your delicious dish!

If you know your recipes backwards and forwards, you know what everything means, you’ve given yourself enough time and grace to rock it out, and you have everything prepared for you to just mix it together, you’re golden.  How can you not succeed?

So, lastly, relax.  It’s not the end of the world if you mess up a recipe.  Some of my favorite memories with Timothy have been the times I’ve completely ruined dinner and we laugh all the way to McDonald’s drive thru.  It is the end of the world, however, if you let fear get in the way of something amazing.  (Okay, not the end of the world per se, but it is pretty tragic.)  If you’re intimidated by a recipe, great!  Just imagine how amazing you’ll feel when you conquer it!

These are some of the things that have helped me the most in my kitchen journey.  What are some tips that you all have?  What are some of the most complicated dishes you all have made?  I’d love to hear.

~Whitney

 

On April 25, 2014 · Leave a Comment · In Home
 

Photo Apr 20, 3 38 15 PMI really have no words to add to the beauty of this day. He sacrificed Himself just for me.  For you.  He conquered the grave.  He conquered hell.  ”His reckless love could not be overcome.”  He is victorious and because of that we can live in freedom.  We can be filled with His power.  His love.

So on this Resurrection Sunday, may we fully embrace the gift He has given.  May Jesus be glorified and lifted high in our lives.  Not just today, the day we celebrate His resurrection from the grave, but tomorrow.  And the next day.  Forever.

~Whitney

 

 

On April 20, 2014 · Leave a Comment · In Lovely Life
 

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If there were a time I would choose never to revisit, the dating years would be high on the list.  The night I was going on my first one-on-one date, a married friend of mine told me that she was soooo glad to be done with dating.  She was so glad that part of her life was over.  I just shook my head – I felt sorry for her because dating was exciting!  It was so much fun!

Well, that was my first date.  And it was fun!  It was sweet and perfect and everything I think a first date should be.  But fast forward a few years into the process and the whole dating thing can kind of wear a person down.  I became weary of it.  I learned that I wasn’t created for casual dating.  I’m not good at casual anything.  I’m either all in or all out.  And that doesn’t really bode well for date #2.  Where do you see yourself in five years?  Marriage?  No?  Okay, check please!

I wasn’t desperate to be married, but neither was I dating to play around.

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I’m a romantic at heart and just love love.  Getting dressed up and going out was fun, but it wasn’t fun trying to decode guy signals to see if he was into me.  Or trying to analyze each text message to see if wanna hang out? meant I’m really interested in you and would like to see where this could lead or if it meant I’m bored and don’t want to look like a loser hanging out by myself on a Friday night. 

I always wanted to be one of those go-with-the-flow kind of girls, but I just wasn’t.  I wasn’t a casual dater.  I didn’t want to waste my (and his!) emotions and potentially bruise my heart dating someone if it didn’t lead to forever.  But, how could you tell if someone was the one?

One day, probably after lamenting the tragedy of a failed date or a stupid text message, my dad sat me down.  He was most likely tired of seeing me analyze everything.  And he said the words that still ring in my heart today:

 

If a man really likes you, if he’s really interested and invested and all-in, you’ll know it.  There’s no way you won’t know.  He’ll show it.  You won’t have to wonder.

 

It sounds simple, but boy, was it what I needed to hear!  I had gotten so used to being intense and trying to make things work, that I had failed to just relax and trust the process.  God had it.  I didn’t have to make someone like me.  I didn’t have to make myself like someone.  When it was right, it would happen.

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And yowza, did it happen.

When a boy drove three hours just to pick me up for our second date, met my parents, took me to a restaurant that had flowers and a heartfelt letter for me waiting on the table, I didn’t have to wonder how he felt.  A few weeks later he told me he loved me, and a couple months after that he proposed, and less than a year after meeting each other we were saying “I do.”

He showed it.  He didn’t play it cool and send me impossible-to-analyze, vague text messages about hanging out.  He made it known.

And I realized that my dad was the smartest man in the world.  Ha!

Marriage kicks dating’s tail.  Marriage is awesome.  I finally understand why my married friend was so excited to be out of the dating stage.

And yet, dating is important.  It’s invaluable.  I wouldn’t go back and change those awkward second dates or those vague texts or those does-he-like-me’s.  It’s part of the process.  It’s part of learning who you are and what you want.  (Or, mainly, what you don’t want.)

So to those married to their “one,” go kiss him and thank the Lord that you don’t have to decode any more vague hang out texts.  And to those in the midst of the excitement and terror that is dating, soak it all in.  Trust God and the process.  Use this time to learn what it is you want and don’t want.  Remember my dad’s words.  Know that true love doesn’t take decoding.  When it happens, you’ll laugh at the time you previously spent wondering if you’ll be able to tell if it’s the real deal.  You’ll know.

~Whitney

On April 10, 2014 · 2 Comments · In Mr. and Mrs.