lean · Spiritual Journey

Featured Post…Zucchini Enchiladas! (By Courtney Oles)

Heyyyy everyone!!

Today’s post is a little special.  It’s the first of many features I will do of various ‘self-proclaimed chefs that I come in contact with and have the pleasure of knowing! As with the culture of my blog, there will be some sort of spiritual connection or nugget of encouragement in there somewhere. 😊 I really hope you enjoy this aspect, while I cook up a new project in the mean time 😊 You will still receive original posts from me, but I’ll be alternating between the two.

Before we get started, I attend a monthly Bible study/brunch/lunch with other young adult Christian women in the Houston area.  Today’s feature, Courtney Oles happens to be one of the lovely hosts.  Last month, she mentioned her desire to go the healthier route, while still packing on the flavor for her guests!  And boy did she accomplish this.  Never in my life did I think zucchini could be made to taste soooooo DELICIOUS!!  Listen…I don’t want to give too much information away too soon, but it was definitely a crowd pleaser.  So out of the box and left everyone wanting more!  Okay, enough of my long-winded intro 😊…allow me to introduce to you, fellow foodie, Christian woman, goal setter, steward, and dream catcher….Courtney Oles!! Enjoy!! 😊

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Hola amigos, Como estas? Mi nombre es, Courtney. Okay so I don’t speak Spanish but I have recently gone a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and all of sudden believe I am fluent in Spanish. I am a Houston native, born and raised.  I attended Stephen F. Austin State University, (Axe’m Jacks) where I obtained my Bachelors of Science degree in psychology and minored in communication studies. I am currently working as a service coordinator/early intervention specialist for ECI, (Early Childhood Intervention) at Bay Area Rehabilitation Center.  There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to help families with children who have developmental delays and disabilities, reach their age-expected development, by providing the necessary therapies and resources needed to be successful.

One unique fact about me is that I am walking quote book! Haha, sounds crazy right? But if you were to ask any of my closest friends they would tell that I literally have quotes for anything. I’m a quote person, if there’s ever a moment or opportunity to encourage someone, I offer a quote for whatever situation that they may dealing with. I find that reciting short quotes can help us mentally place ourselves in a positive environment no matter where we are at any given moment.  Anywhoo, a few weeks ago a group of my sisters in Christ and I got together for our monthly ladies’ fellowship. My good friend Ashley and I had a vision to create a space for like-minded Christian women who are seeking to grow in their walk with Christ to come together for encouragement, bible studies, prayers, laughs and uplifting conversations. Oh wait, did I mention to enjoy good food too?! Yes, my sisters and I love to eat, so we make sure we have good food present! Now don’t get it twisted, I am no chef by any means. I am always nervous when it comes time for the ladies to eat, I always secretly pray, “Lord please let this food be satisfying, if not help me to brace myself for the rejection.” Haha true story, your girl nearly breaks out into a sweat!

For our last fellowship, I wanted to create a dish that was tasty yet on the healthier side. I haven’t committed to being vegan, but I am slowly trying to pull myself away from bread or just heavy carbs in general. You know the saying, “bread makes you spread.” I love Mexican food so I am always down to whip up some enchiladas. However, I wanted to try something different. I looked up different ways you could possibly eat enchiladas without the tortilla. I found a recipe on Pinterest, where someone used Zucchini’s instead of tortillas. I sent the recipe to my friend Ashley to get her opinion and she was down with trying it out. So, I said cool let’s do this! While I was thankful for the idea that Pinterest provided, you know I had to add Coco’s flavor to it. With that being said, allow me to walk you through the process of creating Zucchini Enchiladas.

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

 

Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce 10oz Can (I use hot flavor)

4 large zucchinis, halved lengthwise

1lb Ground turkey

1 onion

Salt

2tsp. ground cumin

2tsp. Chili powder

1 cup of Monterey jack cheese

1 cup of Colby jack cheese

Sour cream for drizzling

Chives for garnishing

Y-shaped peeler

Directions:

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grab a large skillet, medium heat, oil the skillet with olive oil and add chopped onion.

Once onion is sautéed, add ground turkey. Cook until there is no pink in the meat.

Add cumin, chili powder, add 1 cup of enchilada sauce, 1 cup of Colby jack cheese and stir thoroughly. (feel free to add any other spices you may like)

Grab cutting board, y-shaped peeler, and knife. Rinse the zucchinis, slice the zucchini in halves lengthwise, and grab the y-peeler. You are going to grab the y-peeler and slide it down on the inside of the zucchini.

Once you’ve cut the thin slices of zucchini lay them flat on a paper towel to dry.

Lay out three slices of zucchini, slightly overlapping each other and apply a spoonful amount of the mixture of ground turkey on it and roll it up gently.

Repeat this for the remaining zucchini until all of the ground turkey mixture is gone.

Transfer all of the zucchini enchiladas over to a oven safe pan. Drizzle 1/3 cup of remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas.  Sprinkle ½ of both cheeses over the enchiladas.

Bake for 20min.

Remove from oven, garnish with fresh chives, sour cream and ENJOY!

Enjoy all the flavors of enchiladas without the carbs.

**Feel free to add any sides of your choice, I personally love black beans and Spanish rice.**

**Everyone was so ready to eat, I FORGOT to get a picture of it! Just know…it’s AMAZING!

P.S. This is me in Mexico! Lol

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Farkarwa ❤

Spiritual Journey

The Case of the ‘Others’

“The Case of the Others”

Hey my people!

Who expected to get double the fun today?  Yay for back-to-back blog posts!!  I figured I’d make up for lost time…a few weeks to be exact. 🙂

Anywhoo, today’s post is derived from some thoughts I’ve been having over the last week or so.  Thoughts that involved my concern for what ‘others’ will think or say about me and the choices I make.  You see, most people are not bold enough to make negative remarks to our face.  So instead, they stand on the sidelines, taking a survey of the life GOD gave us, and start criticizing in their own way.  Well, when this happens repeatedly over time, we can become too involved in their opinion of us.  As children of God, this is not healthy.  Now, yes, we are commanded in Matthew 5:13 to be careful of the things we say and do so that our influence to lead others to Christ is not hindered.  It reads: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”  That is not to suggest that we should live our lives based on the opinions of others.  When I realized what I was doing, I immediately stopped and prayed to God and asked Him to remove any negative self-talk from my heart and replace them with His truth!  His truth that my eyes should remain on Him and Him alone Hebrews 12:2. Then, I reached out to a good sister-friend of mine, asking her to pray on my behalf as well.  Prayers of the righteous avails much!!  You see, “the case of the others” is something that I want and NEED to overcome.  Am I alone?  If not, I want to share 5 things that I am committed to doing rid myself of this AWFUL disease!

5 Reasons that I am committed to ridding myself of “The Case of the Others”:  

  1. They do not determine your final resting place.
  2. They do not pay your bills.
  3. They do not contribute to your life in any significant way.
  4. Their opinions about you do not have the power to shift the direction of your life that GOD has ordained for you.
  5. Knowing that you are walking in God’s plan for your life supersedes any form of negative self-talk that the devil wants to send your way

Please feel free to share this with friends, family, etc. that you think might benefit from these practical take-aways!!

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One more thing!!

I have to credit: @jlenzportraits @prspctvsxjae for my BOMB pictures!  She had your girl feeling FLAWLESS!

She is the truth yall.  She doesn’t just take pictures…she makes an entire EXPERIENCE out of it! Contact her here: http://jlenzphotography.com/

Enjoy a few more below 🙂

Farkarwa

Spiritual Journey

But what about me?

Hey everyone!

I really wanted to share this piece with you all because I, just like everyone else need some encouragement.  Its wedding season, ‘baecation’ season, and whatever else season.  If I’m allowed to be brutally honest…it gets a bit gag-worthy sometimes.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE LOVE.  And I love seeing genuine, true, pure love illustrated in front of the masses.  That is something I look forward to sharing with my huzbin some day.  But not TOday.  Some of you may be thinking…but what about ME?  When is it going to be my turn?  When will I get to share my #MCM (is that even a thing anymore?), my engagement pictures and my wedding pictures?!  I’s tired of waiting Lord!

Let me stop you there.  I GET IT!  I reaaaallly do.  I mean, God created us for companionship.  Spiritual, social, and romantic companionship.  That’s not to say that everyone will get married…because not everyone will.  But trust me when I say I understand your sentiments.  I’m single as a dollar bill myself. 🙂 May I encourage you for a few moments?  I want to share a few practical things that I do to ‘check myself’ out of idolizing relationships.  In doing so, they empower me to rededicate myself to my #1 relationship.  Which is with Christ! Now, I’m not here to tell you to “stop thinking about it” or to guilt you into believing the desires of your heart are sinful. I just simply want to suggest some things that may help change your perspective/focus from idolozing anything or anyone but our Creator.

I do not have all of the answers.  Heck, I don’t even claim or pretend to have A LOT of the answers.  I am just blessed to have a village that sees fit to pour into my spirit which allows me to grow as a woman.

Below are just a few things that are working for me, that I hope and pray will lift your spirit and help you as well!

*Motive check*

What is driving your desire for companionship, courtship, and marriage?  Is it because ‘everyone else is doing it?’  Is it because you are feeling the pressures of the ‘late-twenties-early thirties blues?’  Is it because your parents love saying, “I sure want some grandbabies” while giving you the grin and side-eye? (I love you mama…I know you mean well! Lol).  If any of the above are reasons for your burning desire or envious nature, cut it.  Embrace and rest in this thought: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4 New King James Version.  This is a reminder to enjoy and appreciate the time that we are able to spend with God while we can.  Talking with Him, studying His word, and applying His word.  Growing closer to Him daily.  Being a light to the world around us.  We should take pleasure in His word and His promises.  While you’re at it, remind yourself of this passage as well: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” Romans 8: 28 NKJV.  Things will work out for you.  Perfectly.  According to the will of God.  And He will exceed your expectations.

*Readiness/Purpose check*

Ask yourself: “Am I truly ready for what it is that I am praying and asking for?”  “Would I date, court, and marry me?”  For a long time, I didn’t really know what that looked like.  Today, I continuously evaluate myself and compare where I am to where I was 3 months ago.  6 months ago.  And so on.  Am I stagnant?  Am I growing?  Am I growing spiritually?  As a woman, daughter, sister, Christian, friend, etc?  If not…I am nowhere near ready to become someone’s lifelong companion.  Someone’s wife.

Am I at least actively evolving towards whole womanhood?  For me, this includes several things. It includes viewing myself as a woman through the eyes of God, NOT the world. And being made whole in that truth. It also includes actively seeking and pursuing my God-ordained purpose.  This includes pursuing my post-graduate degree in social work and relaunching Own Your Peach.  It even includes strengthening my relationship with those around me, my loved ones. Think about what this looks like for you.  Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 reminds us that there is a time, place, and a season for everything.  This includes the season of singleness you are currently in.  No matter what season we are in, we must take full advantage of using it to its full potential to please God.

*Realize and embrace the beauty of the NOW*

Instead of dwelling on what I do not have or what I want in the future, I am learning to live by this principle: I will continue seeking and walking in my purpose.  My husband will find me along the way.  I believe the same is true for you as well, friend.  Mainly because God already has a plan for our lives.  Through faith and obedience, things will manifest themselves in His perfect timing.  This applies to every aspect of our lives.  Not just romance.  Jeremiah 29: 11 teaches us that God wants only what is best for us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” NKJV.  Knowing this truth, we can rest in and fully embrace the now, because God has already worked it out!

I hope and pray that these little truths encourage you on your journey, as we journey together!

Farkarwa ❤

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Spiritual Journey

Girls with Pearls; Guys with Ties

Hey!

Last weekend, I had the HONOR of conducting part of a workshop titled: “Girls with Pearls’ Guys with Ties.”  This workshop was geared toward young girls and young men ages 8-17.  The pearl reference is to show the girls the correlation between the priceless, incomparable value of pearls, and the value of themselves.  The title of our segment was “Remaining Pure in an Impure World,” where we presented Own Your Peach.  It had been quite some time since I allowed God to use me in this way, so I was somewhat nervous.  However, that was eliminated the moment we arrived!!

For the elementary school age girls, we had the girls create self-portraits.  The point of this was to get them to see how they view themselves, and why.  It was also to remind them of the importance to see themselves the way God sees them, beautiful inside and out.  The early adolescent period is crucial for a girl’s emotional and psychological development.  We must dig deep and consistently reinforce positive, healthy self-concepts.  They need to be reminded of their worth and value, especially because images they see in the media fails to do this.  The third point of this exercise was to show them that how we view ourselves, whether good or bad, impacts our lives at school, with family, friends, etc.  At the end of the activity, we had the girls present their self-portrait in front of the rest of the group.  This was great to see because initially, the girls were apprehensive about speaking in front of the large group.  But it was amazing to see the encouragement that they showed one another throughout this unfamiliar process.

The middle school girls had a different activity.  We played a unique game of BINGO.  Some of the BINGO pieces said things like “believes sex is a bad thing,” “believes that God loves us no matter what,” and “loves chocolate.”  The point of these BINGO pieces was to open up and encourage a conversation between the girls and their mothers about sex, abstinence, and purity.  That is one of the goals for Own Your Peach.  Not just to encourage abstinence, but to create a community that encourages open dialogue between young girls and women about the struggles they face.  This BINGO game was successful because everyone left encouraged, light-hearted, and empowered to continue the conversation.

Finally, we met with the high school girls, where the conversation got deep.  We discussed bullying, premarital sex and the emotional consequences, and the importance of positive relationships among young women.  We also dialogued about Own Your Peach’s up-and-coming website relaunch, goals and events.  We also discussed the mission of Own Your Peach which seeks to meet girls and women at whatever life stage they are in; regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof.  The girls also had an opportunity to share their input regarding what services and outreach programs they would benefit from through Own Your Peach.  This part of the workshop was especially powerful because myself and one of our other mentors had the opportunity to share our personal experiences coming into adult womanhood.  We always seek to empower, encourage and provide a safe, transparent, relatable space for the girls to belong and connect.

Although I always seek to be an encouragement to the girls we are privileged to meet.  However, they never cease to amaze and encourage me to continue striving to be the best version of myself.

Until next time…check out some pictures below from our successful event.  The remaining photos are posted on the Own Your Peach website.

All in all, God graced us with a successful event and we CANNOT WAIT for the official relaunch of the website!! Stay tuned. Hit follow and be the FIRST to know!

Elementary-age girls 🙂

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Middle school-age ladies 🙂

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We love silly pics! Some of us anyway. lol

High school ladies in deep thought…

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High school ladies with one of the grandmothers/gracious event hosts

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Final silly pic 🙂

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Farkarwa

Spiritual Journey

Are you a turtle?

Happy Friday!

I had something on my heart today that I wanted to share with you all.  As you know, part of this blog will share some of my spiritual journey.  And today’s post fits that description.  Let’s get to it!

So, I run a trail right outside of my neighborhood every morning.  Like clockwork.  So much that I pretty much see the same people each time.  It’s located right behind a school, so sometimes I see the children playing outside.  I often find myself reminiscing about the innocence of childhood that they still get to experience.

Well, today was no different.  I hadn’t even worked up a sweat, when I approached what I thought was a large rock from a distance.  As I got closer, I noticed it was a turtle!  Now, I’ve never been a person who is fascinated by a turtle.  However, this time was peculiar.  I felt inclined to stop and get a picture.  The turtle was minding his/her business, doing what turtles do (whatever that is)…until he/she saw me.  Not just as another part of nature.  But as a potential threat.  I witnessed the turtle with its neck extended, only to quickly stick its head back into its shell.  I immediately thought to myself, “how many times have I acted like this turtle?  How many times have I reverted back into my ‘shell/comfort zone’ because of fear, discouragement, or a perceived potential threat/disappointment?

I am not referring to the times where I practice God-given wisdom and discernment with life’s situations and people.  In fact, Psalm 119:66 reads: “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”  Additionally, James 3:17 shares with us that wisdom from Heaven is “pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

As we can see, applying knowledge that God gives us is important.  Instead, I am referring to the times where God has planted a seed in my heart, and because of my fear of the unknown…I chose not to follow-through.  Have you ever been guilty of this?  If you’re like me, where your faith has wilted at times, causing you to be like a turtle and ‘put your head back in your shell,’ may I encourage you for a moment?  Psalm 37:4 tells us that if we “take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  I believe the key part of this verse is not the Lord giving us what we want, because He can do any and everything according to His perfect will.  But the importance is in delighting in Him.  Taking pleasure in spending quality time with Him through prayer and studying His word.  Taking pleasure in knowing that He has our best interest at heart. Therefore, we have no reason to live in such fear.

After-all, the writer of Romans reminds us in Chapter 8, Verse 31: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Therefore, he would never give us a reason to revert into our shell, but to stand bold and firm in His promises to love and care for us.  As He has already proven.  I mean, He does have a perfect tract-record.

Have a beautiful, faithful weekend!

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Farkarwa