Blessed are the Peacemakers


I hesitated writing – adding my voice to the loud, obnoxious noise of the past week (well really the past year). There are so many voices, so many opinions, so much banter – I really just wanted to curl up in ball and hide under the covers.

I woke up Wednesday morning in a fog. In the midst of a bright, beautiful, Arizona morning, it was as if there was a black cloud with the looming heaviness of an ensuing downpour. I just wandered around doing my normal morning routine – coffee, reading, lunch-making – but with this nagging nausea. I knew the world wasn’t ending, I knew Jesus held the chaos in His all-knowing love and yet there was still something I couldn’t shake.

I decided that I would hunker down in my PJs, put on some music, light a candle, put my head down and work. Just get on with it.

But as I sat there alone with the cloud overhead, I knew I must get out. I must be with people. I must be kind. I must make conversation. For me, it’s the way I follow Jesus.


And if my following Jesus is going to require being with people, then it’s going to require being a bridge-building, a peace-pursuer.

I never really thought much about Peacemaking. I knew that Jesus mentioned it in the Sermon on the Mount, and that the word Peace is mentioned a myriad of times in the Bible – either referring to peace with enemies or inward peace. But I never really thought it as an active participle – something that I pursue, work at, fight for. I really just thought of peace as something that hopefully would be there – almost an inanimate object that just floats around and lands at will in some place or another.

It wasn’t until Morocco that I realized that peace is not something that just happens, it takes work. It takes understanding. It takes humility, being wrong, apologizing over and over and over again. Peace really is like a foreign language. It doesn’t just magically appear. We don’t pick up peace by osmosis. It takes time and patience, and again, HUMILITY.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Before I lived in Morocco, I had “peace” with my neighbors, those who looked, thought, lived, acted, believed differently than me. And really by peace, I mean, indifference. I’m ashamed now to say that I did not have one good friend who looked, thought, lived, acted or believed differently than me. The peace in my life came from an ignorance and therefore an indifference to my neighbors around me. It’s easy to be a Peacemaker when everyone is pretty much the same. It is easy to be a peacemaker in my comfort zone.

When Jesus is giving the disciples the Beatitudes, he gives the list of “Blessed are…”. And following the “blessed” are the things that these “blessed” shall receive: kingdom, comfort, inheritance, satisfaction, mercy, eyes to see God, reward. There is only one “blessed” that is followed up with a name, an identity: sons of God. We, followers of Jesus, will be known by our Peacemaking. “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be sons of God.”

Growing up Evangelical, we always talked about wanting to be a light in the darkness, or a city on a hill. I always thought that meant that I needed to be evangelizing, or standing against abortion, or telling people they were wrong to believe this, that or the other. We were supposed to be in the world, but not of it. We were basically supposed to be this giant light on a hill, but that definitely had a wall around it to make sure we were still safe and secure.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that following Jesus means breaking down walls and building bridges. It means that the assumptions I lived with and the fears I had were not protecting me in the way I thought, they were only proving to put gigantic walls up between myself and the people Jesus had called me to love, to make peace with. I heard someone say recently, “A theological conviction should never be a catalyst to devalue another person. (Caleb Kaltenbach)”. I was taught (not overtly) that my theological convictions were the walls that kept me safe, on the right track, in the “right” box. I didn’t realize that these convictions were really just barriers to relationships, to love and to following Jesus into the places He wanted to take me.

It is not easy. Peacemaking is really awkward. Peacemaking is really humiliating. And yet, at the same time it’s not hard. It’s showing up. It’s deciding to follow Jesus out of your comfort zone. It’s deciding that following Jesus is worth putting aside your fears and assumptions. It’s taking Him at His word when He said, “I came that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10)”

So, during this trying season, when I would rather roll my eyes and be judgmental, I feel Jesus calling me to Peacemaking more than ever. There has never been a better opportunity for people who call themselves followers of Jesus to be His hands and feet. To be bridge-builders. We should be desperate for eyes to see those who have been forgotten, whether we think they should be forgotten or not.

We are followers of a God who ran towards us, who came to us, made himself known to us to demonstrate His un-ending love. May we be people who follow in His footsteps. Who realize how unbelievably generous Our Father has been with us and may we be generous with those around us. May we “Seek Peace and Pursue it (Psalm 34:14).” And as we seek ways to be Peacemakers, may we experience the the fullness of following Jesus.



I’m still processing everything that happened in my heart and mind after spending 8 days in the place I used to call home. I explain it as a time-space continuum – where almost everything is the same in one place, and yet everything has changed in the other.

My prayer in entering back into that world was that I would be able to be fully present, fully available and fully quiet. I wanted to hear from Jesus. I needed truth and love and acceptance spoken over me. When we left Morocco, we left fully certain that this was the path we were supposed to take, but we didn’t leave whole. We left wounded, broken, and limping. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to enter back into that world  – the one where I felt like I left in wheelchair with broken pieces of me scattered behind. The one where we were maybe looked at as failures who couldn’t hack it. The one where we couldn’t get on board with agendas and priorities. This was the world I was entering back into and I was equal parts bursting with excitement and sick to my stomach. I spent the whole morning crying before stepping onto that plane. I said to my husband through sobs, “I can’t wait to go” and I’m sure I seemed crazy but it was honest.

I cried again when we landed in Morocco and again when I got my passport stamped and again when I hugged my fun-girl sister at the airport. I cried when I saw my best Moroccan friend and when I bought honey from my peanut butter guy, when I saw my rug guy and when I walked into my kids old school to see their teachers. I think I cried a little bit everyday – mostly out of thankfulness that this place and these people were a part of my curriculum.

People. That’s what made that place come alive. It was all the faces, all the voices, all the smiles, all the sounds.

And I realized that everything about the place and the people was all true and real and honest for me. I lived my life there in full integrity and gave myself fully to that place. I wasn’t sure if that was true during my 5 years there. I wasn’t sure that I could shed the agenda I was paid to have, or the sandbox I was supposed to play in. I was afraid that the relationships I had made weren’t authentic or deep and that I was maybe trying to fit back into clothes that didn’t fit me anymore.

And what I quickly realized was that by the grace of God, I never wore those clothes to begin with. The clothes I’ve tried so hard to shed and pretend I didn’t wear, I never really put on in the first place.

I love my friends because they are my friends; because they are unique and funny and lively, and they are people with stories and hurts and dreams. Actually, I loved them without a “because”. I just love them. They were and are a part of my curriculum, a part of teaching me how to love without an agenda. A part of teaching me how to love someone so different from me. A part of learning how good and full it is to get out of your comfort zone and follow Jesus. And how beautiful it is to see God in the faces of those who believe differently.

This came to me while I was at a party and my good friend, Asmae, grabbed my hands at one point and said, “Jackie, please become a Muslim, please.” I smiled back at her and said, “Asmae, I love Jesus and I follow Him, so I’m not going to become a Muslim”. She looked back at me with a beautiful smile on her face and pulling me in close, she said, “I love you, with no agenda. You are my sister and I will always love you.” I looked her with full sincerity and said, “I love you too, with everything in me.”








I’ve always considered myself a pretty vulnerable person. I like to tell people that I’m an open book, and that what you see is what you get. I’ve talked to people often who say that they have a hard time opening up, being real with people, and while I hear what they are saying, I’ve always prided myself in the way I will tell anyone anything.

That is, until recently.

For awhile now, I’ve been having a hard time moving forward in things. My jobs, my family, my dreams – I have so many things that I want to do, to implement, and yet I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that is holding me back. And just today I came to the realization that it’s Me. I’m holding myself back. I’m pretty much debilitated by my insecurity.

This is something I thought I had conquered. When I tell people my story, it’s part of who I was, but surely not anymore. It was who I was growing up as everyone was “cooler” than me and for sure the Upper Classman had it all together. It was who I was in college when it kept me from going deeper with someone who is now basically my sister*. It was who I was 11 years ago as a newlywed who spent her Saturdays home alone in tears, while her husband was out with friends because I was too insecure to put myself out there and call someone.

Putting myself out there. I think there is a theme here.

I’ve always played it safe. Maybe it doesn’t look like it from the outside, but it’s the truth. I’ve learned how to be vulnerable in certain situations. I think in some ways, I’ve conquered the insecurity of putting myself out there with people. I love meeting new people. I’m not shy to assert myself and make a new friend. Morocco taught me how to do that. (It also taught me that it’s ok to make a fool out of yourself!) If I learned nothing else, it was that putting myself out there when it comes to relationships is always worth it.

But, making dreams happen vulnerability is a very different thing. And I’m learning that I lack a significant amount of confidence in the area of making things happen.

There are big questions constantly floating around in my brain: What if I fail? What if someone does it better? What if everyone thinks it’s stupid? or really, What if everyone thinks I’m stupid?

These are the walls that keep me from moving forward. And to be honest, I’m really in love with my comfort level of vulnerability. I’m a super control freak who loves to be able to control exactly what people think of me. I’m not sure that’s even possible, but I’ve convinced myself it is. And while I didn’t even know there were comfort levels of vulnerability, Jesus is reminding me that there are, and He is interested in removing that from me. (I’m feeling a little bit like a 5 year child whose parent is taking their pacifier away because forgoodnesssake they DO NOT need it anymore.)

So, I write all of this in the spirit of vulnerability. And in the spirit of beginning to Put Myself Out There and not play it safe.

Has anyone else ever felt this way?? How did you start to move forward??

*(Side note: I’m not sure this person ever knew how debilitated I was by my insecurity of how amazing she was – and still is. I’m sure you are laughing as you read this. 🙂 )

That Yappy Dog, or the time that my kids taught me about Kingdom Living.

Our family is not a pet family. There, I said it, hate me if you want. I don’t really like animals. Jay gives me a hard time about it, and if I’m really honest, when I see that my friend on instagram just got a puppy, I feel bad for them. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m too selfish for a pet. I can barely keep life together with 3 little humans. If we got a pet, I would probably just curl up in the fetal position and give up on life.

I digress.

So our neighbor has a yappy dog. You know the kind. The ones that bark like they are going to eat you alive. Every time we walk to our car, the dog barks at us. We had never actually seen this dog, as it is behind the door, but it knows anytime we get close, because it acts like it has never seen human flesh and it’s starving.

My kids are slightly terrified (think Sandlot). And you can usually hear me saying, “Forget about the dog. It’s behind the door. It’s not going to get you.”

So yesterday, the kids were outside playing and I saw my neighbor leave her house to take the dog for a walk. I almost yelled to the kids to get inside so that they wouldn’t be freaked out when the dog inevitably lunged for them and barked, but I decided to let it play out. As I walked outside, I was struck by what I saw. The owner was holding the non-barking dog, while my kids stood in close proximity. She was apologizing to them for the barking and explaining that the dog was from the shelter and that the previous owners were not very kind, so the dog is generally afraid of people.

You could see the wheels turning in their minds while they got even closer and tried to pet him. It was in that moment that I understood a little better what it means when Jesus said we needed to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 18:1-4 NIV

This “going towards” when all logic tells you to walk away is very child-like. And also very Kingdom-like.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in light of the tragedy in Orlando. When I heard what had happened, a major thought ran through my brain:

What if someone had “gone toward” Omar Mateen? What if, instead of backing away from him in those moments of his angry outbursts; someone had “gone toward” and built a bridge of understanding? What if, instead of being persuaded by the lie of Radical Islam that all Americans hate Muslims; he felt included, wanted and appreciated by those who “went toward” instead of backing away in fear?

Maybe nothing. Maybe the outcome would have been exactly the same. I can’t assume to know anything that went through his head.

But I do know that we have bought into the lie that building walls and boundaries are the keys to keeping us safe. That keeping people out of our well-kept lives is the way to keep the “bad-guys” at bay. And I’m not just speaking politically here, I’m talking about our neighbors that we don’t know, or maybe the ones that we do know, but that think differently than us. Or our neighbors that look different than us, or speak a different language than us.

We have been taught to fear what we don’t understand, and we don’t take the time to understand those things that we fear. It’s a never-ending, wall building cycle.

That’s why seeing my children try to pet this dog, the one who they once feared (and maybe rightly so), but that now to them had a history and a story, was such a profound picture of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom that embodies the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. The Kingdom that includes, not excludes. The Kingdom that builds bridges that lead to understanding, instead of walls that continue the pattern of misunderstanding and assumption.

We have a choice in these pivotal moments. We have the choice to say “hello” to a woman with her head covered, instead of in fear, hiding our children behind us. We have a choice to stand-up against broad, brush-stroke generalizations, which continue to breed fear and misunderstanding. We have a choice to get to know someone who is different than us, instead of continuing in our own assumptions. It’s not easy; these choices that bring understanding. But Jesus didn’t promise ease, He promised Life. And this Life that He promises is the beautiful fruit of following His call to bridge-building, not wall-building.

May we, as followers of Jesus, be quick to build bridges, instead of putting up walls.

My Favorite Days

I love pictures. My pictures, my friends’ pictures, strangers pictures. Don’t be surprised if I come over to your house and start asking to see your photo albums. Maybe it seems intrusive, but I want to know about your life, who you are, where you’ve come from and what are the times/places that stick out to you as THOSE times. The ones that when you think about them, bring a tear to your eye and simultaneously put a smile on your face.

As I’ve started looking over Morocco pictures, there are certain moments that I can easily describe as the ones that shaped me. The ones that simultaneously make me think, “I can’t believe we did that!” and “I wouldn’t change a thing!” So I’ve decided to share some of those moments with you.

In our first year, I had a girl that helped me around my house who really just ended up being my first, real Moroccan friend. She was a GIFT to me in so many ways. She had just moved to the city from the village she grew up in and was eager to take us back there and introduce us to her family and see her previous life.

To say I was hesitant was an understatement. I was 7 months pregnant and also had a 3 year old and an 18 month old. Since we didn’t have a car, it meant grabbing a taxi to the bus station, and then waiting around until there were enough people (or really whenever they wanted) to leave for the 2 hour trek into the mountains. (Thankfully, I was not alone. It was our family, plus my, also pregnant, SANITY SAVER Charissa and her husband.) We didn’t arrive until later in the evening, and the bus didn’t go all the way into the village – just to the bigger town. So after the bus, we flagged down a grand taxi to take us to the end of their dirt road. At this point, it’s completely dark and we are this rag tag group of foreigners in the middle of this village, just waiting for a little bit of direction. It was the point of no return when our friend’s sister came down the road with her donkey to carry our stuff. Let me just paint this picture for you. We are 2 husbands, 2 pregnant wives, 2 little kids, a donkey, and 2 local friends hiking in the PITCH BLACK up and down a dirt road that eventually leads to her house on the top of a hill. It’s about this time I’m thinking, “Hmmmm..this is a bad idea. What was I thinking?”.


We arrive around 9 and don’t worry, dinner was going to be ready, in probably another hour or so. And then we would all be sleeping together on couch-like things that lined the room. We should have been prepared by how the beginning of this trip was playing out,  that it would be epic.


The trip continued with a 6 hour a hike, a lesson in butter-making from their cow that was just milked, playing with chickens (and then eating them), picking peas for a tagine, fumbling through Arabic, lots of tea and one of the most stretching, beautiful couple days of my life.


It was one of my first lessons that loving someone well often means me being completely out of my comfort zone. It meant the WORLD to my local friend that we would take a couple days and see her life, meet her family. But at that point, there was nothing more out of my comfort zone than spending a couple of days in a village with no running water and a squatty potty.


I think that most of my life, I had allowed that pit in my stomach, “homesick for my mom at a slumber party”, feeling to dictate whether I did something or not. I have found that that feeling keeps you very far away from the line of whether something is in your comfort zone, or not.


As that comfort zone thing was pushed further and further and further; I learned that is how I can love people better and better and better. It’s hard to love people well when I need them to be just like me, and say all of the right things. It’s much harder to love people well when you have absolutely nothing in common and may not even speak the same language. This is not to say I have mastered this comfort zone thing. It does not mean that I don’t still get that pit in my stomach feeling. I’ve just decided to distinguish that feeling as the Holy Spirit prompting me to love that person well, instead of backing away in discomfort and fear.

I wish I could accurately convey to you how those “out of my comfort zone” feelings/situations are the times where I have found the most life, joy and to be honest, comfort. Maybe Jesus was really onto something when He tells us that to follow Him is to know True Life, True Freedom, True Joy.



Ode to Scottsdale

Thank you for your words of encouragement and understanding in response to my last post. After I hit “publish”,  I almost went back and deleted it many times. I thought maybe it was too vulnerable, or needy sounding. But in the end, I want to be real, honest  and an open book. So I kept it.

One of the reasons I hesitated to write it, and then wanted to delete it,  is that I have posted over and over again how much we love it here, and I never wanted to feel like I was talking about of both sides of my mouth. But I’m learning to live in the grey area of life (Which I HATE, by the way), where you can love a place and grieve a place at the same time; where you can love making new friends and building new relationships, and still grieve and miss terribly the ones that you don’t get to do daily life with. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so discombobulated in my emotions.

But we really do love it here. I will try not to make this post too long, and it will probably lead to many other posts, but Scottsdale has been a big breath of fresh air to very weary souls.

The first question people always ask when they hear that we have only lived here a couple of months is, “What brought you to Scottsdale?” I usually just keep it simple. “We have some friends here that said we should move to AZ if we ever moved to America. So we did!” And that’s that. But really there is way more to it, and since it’s such a loaded answer, it’s hard to know where to start. Do I tell this perfect stranger about the almost 2 years we prayed for where to go? Or the 2 possible jobs that never materialized? Or the fact that we said, “We will never move to AZ with just a part time job.”, which turned into, “We will never move to AZ with no job!”, which turned into, “Pack the car, we’re driving across the country with no job and no place to live!!”.  It’s hard to know how much story vomit this person wants during a 5 minute conversation at school pick-up.

But it really is so much bigger than Jay and I, and that is the hope we have, and truth that Jesus speaks to me in those serious moments of grief. I don’t really know why Jesus knit our hearts together over Scottsdale, why He gave us both a passion for this place and the church that He is planting here. But we are thankful, because it really is pretty great!

(Just a little collage of our favorite Scottsdale people/places/things. And I know you can get a margarita anywhere, but really, they’re amazing, so they always deserve a spot on any “best of” list.)

Grief that Heals

It has been awhile since I wrote anything on here, so I figured I would begin again with a  really light, happy subject…Grief. This idea of grief had always been a distant thing for me.  While I have lost Grandparents, I haven’t really experienced anything I would define as grief. I know a lot of people who had to grieve when they moved overseas, but that wasn’t me. While I probably had moments of culture shock, I never really had moments of grieving what I lost when we moved to Morocco.

This past year of transition has been the closest I have come to grief, and I’m going to be honest, it sucks. As we approach our one year anniversary of saying goodbye to Morocco, a good friend told me it would probably be a good idea to let myself feel it and that it would be helpful to grieve again. I really wanted to put on a smile on and say, “Oh I’m fine, I’m totally healed.”, but I think she could tell by the tears in my eyes that I wasn’t fine. That I needed to feel it all over again, I needed to be real with how much I miss it and the people that are there and the way that it has shaped me. I never really equated grief with leaving a life. I always only thought of grief as mourning over a person and the things you will miss about them. But for me, I have had to grieve the life I had, the community that I had, the relationships that meant so much to me. So really, grief is just loss. It’s a loss of what once was, and is not anymore.

I think the main reason I can’t handle grieving all over again is because I was a DISASTER a year ago. If you could have seen me in the days leading up to getting on the plane (and some of you did!), I was barely eating, barely sleeping, and I basically just cried all day, everyday. By the time we arrived on American soil, I was so sick (literally – bronchitis and a broken rib from coughing) from the mourning and the grief. I know that my grief would not be to that extent, but to even experience 10% of that again seems too much to handle.

And Grief is a funny thing. I’m usually doing pretty well…until I’m not. I was at a retreat in October for my new job, and the current staff members spent some time praying over us newbies, and I just LOST it. I could not keep it together. And who wants to be a weeping mess in front of your new co-workers?! I’m thankful that most of them had walked the same road before, so they lovingly handed me tissues and said, “you’re going to be ok.”. Or it’s just another weekend of the same old same old here in AZ, and I am a weeping mess and can barely get myself together to go to church.

While Jay and I are both “lay all our cards on the table” type of people, Grief also makes you super vulnerable, and who wants to do that with a bunch of people you just met. Not this girl. Part of the reason it is so vulnerable for me is that I’m a really ugly crier and I hate the vulnerability of crying in front of people. So this grief thing has been interesting trying to navigate while meeting people and forming a new community (“Hey, my name is Jackie. Sorry about the mascara streaks down my face, I’m in a bit of culture shock.”). In some ways, it’s been really nice to ease ourselves into life, but in other ways, it’s hard to start over in a new place where no one has any idea or any context for what has shaped you and what you have held dear for the past 5 years. And to be honest, I’m not sure many people ever will. And that is just another thing to grieve. We all want to be known, understood, valued, and I’m learning that that is just another piece of this grief puzzle.

The Good in all of this, is that I’m not alone. One of my biggest prayers a year ago was, “Jesus, you need to carry me through this, because I can barely function.” And He did. I clung like I have never clung before, and I survived. He did not lessen the pain, because He knew how desperately my heart needed to grieve it, but I survived. And I think that’s where I am again. Not necessarily to the same extent, but I need to let myself grieve like I did a year ago. I need to let myself feel it and be vulnerable and let people see me ugly cry. (I will warn you, it’s not pretty.) Because for me, grieving allows me the space to remember how much those people and places mean to me. I can’t just sweep the past 5 years away just because I’m scared of how much it hurts to miss it. For me, the tears validate the beauty of our years, even the hard ones, because of where He has brought us.

So to sum it all up, Grief sucks. It’s awful. But so needed and good and healing. But still sucks. (So if you Scottsdale people see me at the grocery store or at kids’ school pick-up and I look like I’ve been ugly crying, feel free to say, “grief, culture shock?!” and I’ll just laugh and probably keep crying 🙂 )

To finish this gut-wrentching post, I thought I would share a bit of our Morocco life with you. It has taken me almost a year to let myself go through Morocco pictures with a fear that I just wasn’t up for it. I wasn’t ready to grieve again. But Lydia needed some pictures for school, so it forced me to go back through them. It has actually been fun to relive that first year, and to see how absolutely crazy we were to take 2 babies to a foreign country and live in a walled city with no car!! (Why didn’t anyone warn us that we were absolutely insane?!?)  So here is a video tour of our first house in Fez. That first year was quite a year, but we often say we will never live in a cooler house. So I hope you enjoy a little taste of the beginning of our Morocco Life.




September Meal Plan

September. It has been 5 years since I spent an entire month of September in America. This is about the time my friends in Virginia start talking about the cool, crisp air, the pumpkin patch they are going to visit and the apples they are going to pick. A piece of my heart always longed for just a little bit longer of Fall as we jumped on a plane back to the hot desert. And then we moved to America and basically traded one hot desert for another. I’m not complaining, just stating reality. I’ve heard it will get Fall-like here….probably around November. So while I’m longing for a little bit of Fall-type things, my menu for September can’t quite follow suit. To me, Fall = Soup, and the couple of times I’ve made soup lately, Jay looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. 115 degrees, and we’re eating SOUP?!? It’s also really still too hot to grill out in the afternoon, so we’re saving those things for the end of the month; when, so I’ve heard, we may see a low of 75?!?!  75 sounds like winter!

So here’s what happening in the Parks’ house for September.

  • Spaghetti Pie & Salad
  • Chicken/Veggie Enchiladas
  • Chicken Tagine
  • Tagliatelle Pasta w/ Mashed Peas
  • Cauliflower Kung Pao
  • Loaded Baked Potato Bar
  • Butternut Squash/Black Bean Empanadas
  • Mac & Cheese w/ Broccoli & Salad
  • Sloppy Joes & Crispy Potatoes
  • Corn Chowder
  • Potato/Pea Curry
  • Walnut Pesto Pasta & Salad
  • Chili Satay Noodles
  • Falafels & Quinoa Salad
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Teryaki
  • Brinner (Eggs, Bacon, Skillet Hashbrowns)
  • Eggplant Parmesan w/ Sausage Sauce
  • Tacos
  • Tostadas w/ Fried Egg
  • Asian Quinoa Meatballs
  • Moroccan Couscous
  • Shredded Rainbow Cashew Salad
  • Burgers/Fries
  • Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Burgers/Fries
  • BBQ sandwiches & Sweet potato fries
  • Angel hair pasta w/ chili/lemon/arugala
  • Tomato/Mozzarella Quiche

Almost There

I LOVE ice cream. It’s my favorite thing. I often will text Jay – “will you prove your love to me by bringing home ice cream?” Yes, I know it’s manipulative, but sometimes I’m desperate.

This love for ice cream has always resulted for me in the “American 10”. Not to be confused with the freshmen 15, these 10 lbs happens to people who live overseas and come to America for a short amount of time and stock their freezer full of Breyers. (Please tell me I’m not alone). Well, since I’m now living in America for the foreseeable future, this freezer full of ice cream was just not working for me. So…I’ve started running again.

I’ve had seasons of running a lot, but the last 5 years have not been one of those seasons. Running is just not fun when you have to wear long pants, long sleeves and men yell and honk at you as you pass. I did run some, but not like in the past.

Now that I can leave my house in shorts and a tank top and run a beautiful path around a lake, it is a much more enjoyable form of keeping off my ice cream pounds. But as I’ve started running again, I’ve realized I’m not a very good finisher. I can will myself to keep going, keep running, maybe even try and go a little faster on some days, but as soon as I see my finish line, it’s as if my body starts breaking down. EVERYTHING starts hurting, my iron-strong willpower begins to wane, and my encouraging self-talk turns to a nemo-esque song about “just keep swimming”. It’s not pretty.

So as I was talking with a friend yesterday, I realized that my running finish line reality is playing out almost the same way as my almostdonewithsummer finish line reality. It was nice talking to her, because I really thought I was the only one.

For instance, the mom, that can usually make it through the morning without losing it, is now found putting herself in timeout at 6:05 AM when the kids have only been up for 10 minutes. Or the mom that usually has some good, healthy, helpful self-talk is now found texting her friends for a life-line of sanity. Not that I am any of these moms, of course (Ahem..), but I realized it’s because we can SEE the finish line! We’re almost done. School starts any day now, and our will-power is tired. My daughter actually said to me the other day, “I can’t wait to go to school so I can actually DO something. It’s boring at home!” I hear ya, sister. It is boring. Your mom cannot think of one more creative activity. (Hence the reason I was not a teacher, and teachers are HEROS!!!)

So…Do whatever you gotta go. Finish Running Strong. Maybe grab a friend to finish with. It’s always better when you can finish your run chatting about nonsense, instead of thinking about how you want to give up. Life is always better done together.

Or just go eat ice cream. That makes a lot of things better too.

August Meal Plan


Meal Planning. My coping mechanism, my sanity saver, and my creative outlet. I was basically speechless when I stumbled upon the cookbook aisle in the library. I could have stood there forever (but then I’m sure my kids would have pulled all the books off the shelves and we would not have been allowed back). I love the challenge of a new month and not eating the same meal twice.

We are finally getting settled here in Scottsdale. It has taken me awhile to get used to shopping and cooking in America. I get pretty overwhelmed in the grocery store, and I miss my donkey cart vegetables and my banana guy. But I’m learning the stores around here and what works for our family. I wouldn’t consider myself an organized person per se, but when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping, I must have a plan. So in this new season, we have come up with our budget and I have figured out where I’m going to shop and that is most of the battle.

So here are the logistics of my meal planning. We have a $400/month budget. This is month #1 of this budget, so I’ll let you know how it goes. I shop at Costco, Sprouts (an amazing farmer’s market grocery store out here), and the farmer’s market. We are still eating mostly vegetarian, but throw in some meat meals here and there. We eat homemade granola or eggs for breakfast. Leftovers, pb&j, or grilled cheese for lunch. The meals listed are our dinners. Oh and Sunday is ALWAYS pizza night! 🙂 Any other logistical questions, Just ask!

So here is my meal plan, I hope it’s helpful to you!

  • Stuffed Peppers/Squash
  • Mushroom/Kale Lasagna
  • Tostadas/Rice
  • Breakfast for Dinner (Scrambled eggs, potatoes, fruit)
  • Enchiladas (a little chicken and a lot of beans)/rice
  • Spanish Tortilla/Broccoli
  • Spaghetti/Meatballs/Salad
  • Spicy Thai Noodles
  • Mushroom Risotto/Salad
  • Penne w/ Arugula Almond Pesto/Salad
  • Stuffed Shells/Salad
  • Falafels/Pitas/Quinoa Salad
  • Kale/Pepper Frittata
  • Tacos/Rice
  • Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Rolled Eggplant Parmesan & Sausage Marinara
  • Veggie Fried Rice
  • Creamy Mushroom Pasta/Salad
  • Asian Quinoa Meatballs/Rice
  • Chicken Fajita Salad
  • Rainbow Veggie Pad Thai
  • Salad w/ Ricotta Cheese/Bread
  • Breakfast Burritos
  • Tagliatelle w/ Mashed Peas
  • Oven Braised Mexican Beef