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Here. We. Are.


I wanted a sanctuary,

and I though I did not seem able to rope off such a place inside myself,

I still held out hope that if I could build one outside myself,

then perhaps the inner one would grow.

-Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church


I have spent the better part of the last two years being a machine; last year being the year I perfected my ability to function as a machine. Hospitality work in the year of COVID brought out the parts of myself that bipolar had spent twenty years shaping and simply remade them into one who was able to rise to the occasion of hard circumstances and then stand on them, victory flag in hand.


Although I technically live with bipolar, bipolar does not make its home in my physical body. It resides in my husband and because he was only diagnosed a few years ago, I spent seventeen years training my body to match his mania. For us, his bipolar presented itself in long stints of zealous, religious activity followed by a day or two of exhaustion that simply looked like Thad going away to fast and pray.


Bipolar trained me to work forever and ever, amen, while teaching me how to over-function, over-perform, and over-compensate for every damn thing headed towards the crapper...which just so happened to be every restaurant every where last year.


To steal some words from dear Queen Esther and reframe them for my meaning-making enneagram 4 self, "Who knows? Maybe you were appointed this role, {in this restaurant} for such a time as this."


That is what I told myself every day last year.

I had trained for it.

I was good at it.

When it was too hard for everyone else, it was just right for me.

I wasn't a loser or a quitter or a whiny baby.

I was a self-sacrifice-er, a martyr, a lay myself down-er for my neighbor.

God wanted me to do it; no, He expected me to do it.

So did everyone else.


And so I did.

No matter the flawed reasoning behind my decision to lay myself down on the altar of Keep the Restaurant in Business and Keep the Employees Employed, I did it.

And I did it joyfully some days. Tearfully most days. But exhaustedly every day.


Then the year ended and the pandemic did not; it exploded.


So here we are.

Period.

Here. We. Are.

That's worth saying if only for the sake of marking this year in the history of us.




But I want to be the first to raise both hands and tell you that I have allowed all the things that have happened around me inform my thinking, transform my living, and deform my soul.


Somewhere between March and December, I stopped paying attention to what I was doing, what I was thinking, and how I was feeling. I woke up, got a shower, went to work, made the food, hired the staff, trained the staff, put out fires, talked to all the customers, cleaned all the surfaces, wore the mask, invented the next recipe, ate hundreds of small bites of food, came home, cried, showered, tossed and turned all night, and then did it all again.


I no longer considered what I was doing; I was simply doing.


At the end of December, after a positive COVID for Thad, I had precious time to stop doing. I had two weeks to stay home, nourish my body, and embrace the space I'd been given as time to consider how all the habits and practices I'd put into place in order to keep the brewery going had ultimately negatively impacted the state of my soul.


Those words sting as I type them. The truth hurts, even when it's helpful.


Back in September, when exhaustion was at its peak, I remember crying into a beet salad at a local restaurant in town because I was becoming keenly aware of the ways in which I'd laid my self down in order to keep something outside of my self alive simply because I either imagined my worth as less than the thing needing the work of my hands or because I imagined my worth as being tied to my ability to sustain the work.

In September, the Spirit revealed the truth.


But all I could do was look at it in the rearview mirror of the car that I was actively driving off the cliff. I was caught up in the momentum of the day-to-day newscasts and governor announcements and never ending cycle of restaurant life. I did not have time to pull the car over to the side of the road and see the loving gaze of Jesus beckoning me to just get out of the car because I was too preoccupied with trying to earn His applause when the work was done.


I saw the applause of Jesus as evidence of the love of Jesus.


Father Richard Rohr says that what empowers change, what makes us desirous of change, is the experience of love and acceptance itself.


The truth the Spirit revealed to me in September -LOVE, the very thing I was searching for and striving to attain - had already been given, lavishly.


And because I had been unable to allow myself to experience what it is to be fully loved by Jesus, I was unable to change.

I could not shift gears, stop the car, get out, and think about what I was doing.


My word of the year is TIME.

You might could even call my word of the year STILLNESS.

If time is our father, stillness is our mother.

And this year, I want time to learn to stand still enough to feel the fullness of LOVE,

That I might change my rhythm of life.


Scroll on down to find out what's for supper.

Grilled Chicken Wings with Burnt-Scallion Barbeque Sauce

Week 2 Shopping List


If you're cooking along with us, you can find this week's recipe on page 104 of Sean Brock's cookbook, Heritage. I love this recipe. It has several steps, but it's worth it! You'll need to make a rub and a BBQ sauce before you attempt these wings, but the good news is that you'll have plenty of the rub and the BBQ sauce left over for other grilled meats.


Don't even think about skipping out on brining the wings. You'll regret it. And although you can use canola oil instead of peanut oil, don't do it! The peanut oil gives the wings a flavor you just can't get with regular ole' canola oil.


I pair these wings with homemade mac-n-cheese and a green veggie, usually roasted broccoli.


Because this recipe is somewhat involved, I usually make the rub and the BBQ sauce a few days before I plan on grilling.


SEASONINGS

  • Kosher Salt

  • Smoked Paprika, 1 cup

  • Garlic Powder, 3 tbsp

  • Onion Powder, 3 tbsp

  • Black Pepper, 3 tbsp

  • Chili Powder, 1 tbsp


PANTRY

  • Pork Stock (I used Chicken Stock)

  • Apple Cider Vinegar, 5 cups

  • Ketchup, 1 1/2 cups

  • Brown Sugar

  • Sorghum or molasses

  • Dry-roasted peanuts, 1/2 cup

  • Peanut oil

  • Soy Sauce, 1 tbsp

PRODUCE

  • Scallions (green onions), 10-15 onions

  • Cilantro, 1 cup

  • Lemon, 1

MEAT

  • Chicken Wings cut into tips and drumettes, 6


EQUIPMENT

  • Hickory Chips, 1 pound

  • Charcoal, 3 pounds

  • Grill

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