In the midst of Seattle suburbia, I sit in my living room, the only sound being the hum of the furnace that warms my toes on these colder winter days. My belly is full from leftover black bean stew, tortilla chips, and an avocado that was at the peak of ripeness. Its flesh was perfectly soft under my fork as I mashed it, and it was without a single dark speck. It’s not often that I pick them so well. The children are sleeping now. Elijah has a fever today, yet Tylenol is keeping it at bay. If it persists till morning, I’ll call the doctor and see what she says. I get my stitches out tomorrow, too. I hope it doesn’t hurt. Yesterday we put up the Christmas tree. I was just telling Dan that it has a dated look to it, not that it’s a bad thing. It’s oddly conical and adorned with memories that make me smile. Perfection really has no place here, so I’m choosing to embrace its uniqueness.

This life we live is hard – for all of us. It is full of pain and grief and challenge, and there are moments like this past Friday that force us to look ourselves in the mirror. Our response to tragedy reveals our hearts, and what I’ve seen in my own is not altogether lovely. Apathy and indifference characterized my initial response to the events in Newtown, but as my Facebook and Twitter feeds flooded with condolences to the victims and their families, I began to question the coldness of my heart. To be clear, it’s not that I didn’t care or thought these lives didn’t matter; rather, I had almost become desensitized to it. This got me thinking about my life lately and how I’ve emotionally flatlined over the last several months. I spend most of my time being neither happy nor sad, just putting my head down, trying to get through life and doing the best I can to care for my family.

The problem with this way of living is that it isn’t living at all. I remember telling my husband a month or so ago that I’d rather be cold-hearted than depressed all the time, though I’m not really sure which is worse. Thankfully, the ups and downs of the postpartum rollercoaster have passed, but what I’m realizing now is that I’ve come out on the other side a different person. I’m detached. I lack zeal. While there are things I care about, my heart is only stirred in brief flashes. Sometimes I question if I am lazy, but when I dig a little deeper, I realize I’m lacking in motivation, energy, and vision. The hard-nose, disciplined girl I knew 10 years ago has disappeared, and in her place is a woman who often feels weak and uninspired, eating her emotions in the form of chocolate and French fries. This is not me, but it is me.

White Chocolate Popcorn with Orange Zest, Pistachios, and Cranberries

My thoughts are spilling out in a stream of consciousness, but here’s my point: I am very blessed. Life is hard, yes, yet I lack nothing that I truly need. I have food, shelter, warmth, friends, family, salvation. My children are safe and healthy and learning more every day. Gratitude should be flowing from me, but it isn’t, and these recent current events helped me see that more clearly. I need Jesus more than ever, and I have much repenting to do. I want to care more, I want my heart to break when others are devastated, I want to be part of the solution.

White Chocolate Popcorn with Orange Zest, Cranberries, and Pistachios

White Chocolate Popcorn with Orange Zest, Cranberries, and Pistachios

Makes: about 10 cups

White Chocolate Popcorn with Orange Zest, Cranberries, and Pistachios

Ingredients

  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup shelled, salted pistachios
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh orange zest

Instructions

  1. Place the popcorn, cranberries, and pistachios in a very large mixing bowl.
  2. Set the white chocolate chips in a glass or ceramic container and heat in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until they are completely melted. Stir in the coconut oil and orange zest until smooth.
  3. Drizzle the white chocolate over the popcorn mixture, then use a wooden spoon to carefully turn it until it is evenly coated and the pistachios and cranberries are distributed throughout.
  4. Spread the popcorn out on a sheet of wax paper to set, then transfer it to an airtight container.
http://www.pepperlynn.com/2012/12/white-chocolate-popcorn-with-orange-zest-cranberries-and-pistachios/

Tips and Tidbits

  • This recipe is quite simple and of course can be modified to suit your taste. Try using different types of chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit to create unique combinations. Dark chocolate + dried cherries + almonds would be delicious together, and I’m thinking lime zest + dried pineapple + white chocolate would be tasty as well!
  • You can determine the degree of clumpiness of this mix by how you arrange it on the waxed paper to set. For large chunks, place the pieces close together and stack a couple layers high, then break it as needed after the chocolate is dry. For smaller pieces, spread the mixture more thinly, leaving space in between.

ENJOY!

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