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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Glazed Salmon with California Avocado Slaw

We are taking a 180 degree turn from serious touch stones such as marriage/commitment/failure and turning to the wonderful topic of food. A few months ago I made a commitment to myself - to enjoy the food I eat and stop eating the food I don't enjoy. I'm not talking about skimping out on the veggies. But how often do I stuff down breakfast without thinking of the taste, skip through a snack and load up on dinner. A dinner that is "okay" at best, and therefore less satisfying. So we are trying new recipes in the Erickson household. One a weekish is the plan, in hopes of stirring up the palette, increasing satisfaction, and eating less in quantity but more in quality. And hopefully I'll get around to sharing those recipes that have amazed me. Here is my most recent favorite: (and I do find it a bit funny that the only two recipes I have blogged about include Salmon... and that not only did I not come up with this on my own...but I cannot claim credit for making it - that was Chris' doing.)

Glazed Salmon with California Avocado Slaw (Courtesy of Calif. Avocado Commission)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce 1/4 cp. sliced water chestnuts (I omitted)
1 clove garlic peeled handful of shoestring carrots
1 tsp. grated ginger 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
2 1/2 Tbsp. honey 3 cps. shredded cabbage
1 tsp. sesame oil salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cp. rice vinegar 1 ripe avocado cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/4 cp. olive oil
4 (5 oz.) salmon fillets

Place soy sauce, garlic, ginger honey sesame oil, vinegar and olive oil in food processor and blend until creamy. Pace salmon fillets in shallow dish a pour half of mixture over them, coating both sides and setting aside.

Place water chestnuts, carrot, bell pepper, and cabbage in a bowl and top remaining mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add avocado and toss to combine. Set aside.

Cook salmon in preferred method. Place Salmon on plate and spoon over slaw.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Marriage (in conclusion...)

This, I guess, is not really a conclusion. I am sure to experience more. And I am sure to post more about it. But for now I simply wanted to share one of my favorite poems on love. One that hung above our bed for the first couple years of marriage:

Trust me, I have not earned your dear rebuke,
I love, as you would have me, God the most,
would lose not him, but you must one be lost,

Nor with Lot's wife cast back a faithless look
Unready to forego what I forsook;

This say I, having counted up the cost,
This, though I be the feeblest of God's host,
The sorriest sheep Christ shepherds with
his crook.

Yet while I love my God the most, I deem
That I can never love you over-much;
I love Him more, so let me love you too;
yea, as I apprehend it, love is such

I cannot love you, if I love not Him,
I cannot love Him, if I love not you.
-Christina Rossetti

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Give Him License to Fail - My Marriage (part 4)

Chris and I had an interesting conversation the other day... we were talking about the hilariousness of my parents. See my dad has a reputation in and amongst our family. I am not sure I can put a name to this reputation but it comes from years of stories and adventures that went a little like this: "Dad, how much further?" (On our mountain bikes.) "Oh, a mile or so," he'd say, and then an hour later and two mountains over I'd ask again. Or from the countless times my Dad has said, "This run looks good, lets try it. " And then ends up on the wrong side of the mountain range, out of bounds, hitchhiking in his ski boots. I grew up surrounded by pictures of my parents winching their jeep UP a river, in some raging canyon, and my mom sitting on the hood of the jeep, just "hanging out." See my dad has an uncanny knack for finding an adventure. Like the time he got his car stuck in a muddy construction area and hijacked a crane to pull it out... And never got caught. In many families this would be considered crazy or irresponsible, risky or just plain "not fun." But amongst us Raymonds it is practically revered. And for all the failed attempts, there have been twice as many success. And many success were found amidst the failures...

Rarely in these stories is my mother mentioned. But she has probably been there 98% of the time, by his side, patiently bidding her time for a warm shower and a comfy bed. My mom was my first example of a wife who went along on the adventure. But until recently, I hadn't noticed that she is also the first woman who showed me how to give her husband license to fail in his adventures. Now not everyone is perfect. And sometimes one needs to put their foot down. But what I remember most? My Dad coming up with the crazy fun weekend ideas and my mom working her hardest to make it happen (cleaning out campers and tents/ packing coolers/ getting me out the door and picking up a friend on the way out of town). And when that weekend happened to involve being stuck in a tent/camper for three days while it rained, or a tornado skipping 200 yards from us, or sunburned backs and shoulders, I never heard her say, "I will never do that again, " or "I told you this was a bad idea" or better yet, just remain silent, cold and stony the whole ride home.

The last 5 months I have learned how valuable it is to Chris that I give him license to take a risk...and to fail in it. When we moved to Utah he asked multiple times, "Will you still be with me if this fails?" A few weeks ago he said, "I need to know that if today fails miserably, climbing with the kids, that you'll still love me. And that you'll be willing to try again."

How many wives are frustrated with their husbands because "they won't make a decision" or "they won't do anything?" Probably the same amount as have wives that nag, complain, push, and then throw the failures back in their face.

I am not perfect in this. Far from it. But I can get better. I have gotten better this last year. And I've also come to learn something about myself. I fail too. All the time. And God doesn't hold out on me because of it. And I shouldn't hold out on my husband either.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Be Willing To Go - My Marriage (part 3)

Here is the thing I've noticed about mothering. Okay, maybe two things...okay maybe three. I'll try to limit it to three: 1. It is hard and tiring. 2. With it comes an unhealthy dose of worrying. 3.These two things can take over your whole life.

This spring I made a choice: to be willing to go or do some of the things Chris wants to do. Not just let him go alone, but go with and do it with him.

As I am about to enter my fifth year of being a mom,I've realized how much I have imprisoned myself by just not being willing. I am tired. I am up most nights at least once. After we crossed into the world of three kids, I ended each day feeling as though I ran a marathon. There is little or no down time. So Saturday would roll around, Chris would come up stairs with a slightly envisioned smile and suggest we go to this new climbing spot he read about or go for a hike, or drive to the mountains, etc. He wanted to go on an adventure and he wanted to take his family along with.

And my response? I am too tired. I don't want to deal with cranky kids who don't get their naps. That sounds like a lot of work. Then I would move onto previously mentioned (#2) : Well, how exposed is this hike, how far is the approach to the climb? What if they fall off a mountain? What if they get bitten by a snake (I have a thing with snakes.) And my mind would fill with all sort of images of my kids being swept downstream or teetering on the edge of a cliff. And soon my 1. tiredness and 2. worry would take over my life, my mothering, and most significantly my wife-ing (if I can make up that word). I wasn't willing to go and I was, therefore, missing a part of my husbands heart.

Recently, I've jumped in with the adventure mentality and I've seen Chris come alive in ways I never expected. And myself as well. I am learning to have fun again. And yes, it can be a lot of work. And sometimes you look at each other at the end of the day and say, "well, that didn't work." But often you find things you love to do as a family. And you find creative ways to make things work. And you and your partner learn how to work as a team in accomplishing these things. And every now and again, you get chased off a climb by swirling black clouds and rock breaking lightening, run down the mountain to get out of the fierce downpour, climb into your warm car, look at each other through dripping hair and muddied hands and say, "Lets get outta here!"... with a huge smile on both of your faces.

We were talking about this one day and I said, "I think as a mom it is hard to want to go cause it is so much work. I think most mom's are not willing and continually tell their man, 'no'." Chris responded by saying, "You have no idea...that is exactly what happens, all the time."

I was at a marriage retreat this last march and the pastor's wife asked the question, "Who do you want to be for your husband?" She answered, "I want to be the one who will run away with him." I so resonated with this. Cause when I look back at my daily dealings with Chris, often what I am being (or trying to be) is his caretaker/mother(yikes)/maid/friend/co-worker/bookkeeper/task manager. But who do I WANT to be? I want to be his partner in crime. The one who runs off with him on some crazy and wild adventure. So now I am trying to start acting like that person. And now I would ask you, who do you want to be for your husband? And are your actions in line with that?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Day Chris Went From Roommate to Warrior - My Marriage (part 2)

Almost one year ago exactly, Chris and I sat in the living room of our pastor's house. I couldn't, at the time, put into words much of what I was feeling. And I still can't... but in short I wasn't happy. I felt trapped, I felt like so many of my dreams were dying or gone. I felt like my joy in Jesus was depleted, dry, almost gone, stolen by late nights, crying babies, long hours of Chris at work...etc. Only this time I was done. I was done just doing my thing. Just doing what I was expected to do. If insanity is doing the same old thing and expecting different results, then I was done being insane. Cause for years it seemed I had done the same old thing and nothing changed. I knew Jesus was the truth, but I didn't know what it meant to live for him any more. And I didn't feel free to explore this question, for real.
Now this is a simple summary of what I was wrestling with. Call it an early life crisis. But as far as it seemed to me Chris was fine. He went to work and was excelling, he helped lead worship at church, financially things kept looking up. Yeah, he was missing a little of the renegade adventurer I had so fallen in love with 5 years ago, but all in all it seemed he could keep on keepin' on. And I knew what I needed was a major life make over. Not because that would make me happy. But I needed to learn what it meant to have joy in Jesus again. And I was willing to do whatever it took.
And my pastor agreed. He challenged us to throw away all our preconceived beliefs and start over, taking the bible and a good dose of prayer with us. I remember driving home that night. Chris was anxious. I asked him what he was thinking, and his honest reply was, "I'm scared." He knew he needed to walk this road with me. He knew if he wanted to save our marriage he would have to not simply check in with his wife but really meet me in the thick of it. He would have to walk into the unknown and he wasn't sure where it would take us. Our perfect little world we had created with a cute house and 3 kids and awesome friends and a great job, living in a dream town, could all be disrupted. And for a few weeks I was uncertain of what he would do.

But he entered in the battle. And this is where Chris Erickson forever proved he was my knight in shining armor. He told me, "I will do whatever it takes to have life in our marriage again. I will sell all we have, give up my job (this freaked him out), or move if I have to.
I will do anything to keep you. And I don't want to keep the duty bound Alyssa, but the free, alive and living on the edge Alyssa. I want to see you smile again." And I've learned ever
since that day what it means to meet your partner where they are at. It isn't just saying you'll pray for them or try to share little 'hallmark' thoughts every now and then. But it is being willing to go the extra mile. To let their burdens become your burdens and walk side by side with them through it. It is leaving behind your safe/stable place to meet them in their wild/crazy place if need be. Sometimes it is to be their safe place. It is to provide freedom for them to share hard things, without you getting offended or trying to one up it with a hard thing of your own. It is being committed, no matter where you end up. And you could end up somewhere different...we ended up in Utah.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thriving, not just surviving....My Marriage (part 1)

A week ago I sat in the living room of my parent's home in Golden, rocking comfortably in their glider rocker, while an uncomfortable sinking feeling uncoiled in my stomach. My parents were simply reorienting themselves with the goings on of many of my best buddies from childhood through college. But as we scrolled down the list the conversation went mostly like this, "Alyssa, how is (insert name)? They were married a few years back, right?" And I responded, "Well things have been pretty hard I would guess. They're divorced now." I was heavy hearted for my many friends, whose perfect love stories turned out less than perfect. I was humbled by knowing that apart from the grace of God this would have been my same story. And I was burdened to share somewhere, somehow a little of what God had done and taught Chris and I this last year.

While we were engaged and during our first year of marriage I remember Chris praying one thing more than anything other: that we would be in love with each other more everyday than we were the day we were married. A big prayer in my opinion and I wasn't even sure it was possible. I mean I would have kids and gain weight, and responsibilities would weight us down, and hurts would happen. Could we really love each other more? And as the years tick on (I admit 6 years is only a drop in the bucket) we've realized that we don't want to merely survive in our marriage, we want to thrive. We don't want to be on the defensive as the opponent backs us into the corner, but on the offensive, charging forward. We want to remember we are on the same team, something we often start off by saying to each other whenever we are having one of those "tough conversations".

Now I don't know everything about marriage. I am a baby in terms of what I will know by the end of my life. But a year ago we were merely surviving. And since then there a few things that drastically changed the way we relate, and now I can say, at least today, we are thriving. We are more in love than any previous year. So I am going to take sometime this week to journey back through the things I learned and the struggles we had. And at the very least I hope I am blessed by it and maybe someone else will be too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I go to church and I think, "Wow. Everyone here has it all together."
I go to the store and I think, "Wow. That mom looks great and seems so happy."
I read other blogs and I think, "Wow. They are so wise, so witty, so verbose..."
I look at facebook and I think, "Their life is SO cool."
And then I think, "I wonder if people read my blog or go to my facebook and think, 'She has it all together, her life is So cool.'"

Now maybe you don't. And you probably would be wise in thinking that.
But if you do, this one is for you. Cause a venue - such as a blog- can present a polished appearance. So let me scratch it up a bit.
Cause I don't want anyone thinking I have it pulled together or I know it all or my life is perfect...cause then I wouldn't need Jesus, would I? I hope you don't misread this- it is not a pity fest. Just an assessment of reality:

I sometimes don't get out of my pajamas till noon. Often, I put cleaning the house before the training of my kids. I have become so outraged over my daughters refusal to eat a noodle that I launched a 2"x4" through our screened in patio. Yes, that is right, my adult temper couldn't handle my toddler's willfulness. (Chris just sat there in stunned silence.) I've often thought I'd be happier if I looked different. I can't even count on my hands the number of times I have heard the kids crying at night and I pretended to sleep through it so Chris would get up. (Sorry, Love.) And I cannot count the other number of times I stomped loudly off to see what was wrong with the crying kid, so Chris would be sure to get the message... I've manipulated. I've refuse to say I was sorry. I've kept the kids down for naps a little longer just so I could watch a TV show. I've blame shifted. I've doubted whether putting the effort into parenting was worth it. I've sincerely contemplated whether one of my kids was possessed by a demon. I've been embarrassed by my kid's tantrum at the store. I've been embarrassed by my subsequent tantrum in the parking lot where I thought no one would notice. I've said many of the things we swear we'll never say to our kids, and judge others who do say, "Because I said so," or "What is wrong with you?" or "being your mommy is hard and not fun." (yes, I said that and have prayed I would never even think it again.) I've thrown myself on the floor in a pile of tears. I've actually asked my son to try to not spill anything ever again. So I guess we can add placing unrealistic expectations on others to the list...

I want to be real, with whoever is out there reading this. I am not perfect. I cannot even do the basic daily things in life (like feed my kids some noodles) without sinning, or without the help of Jesus. And that is the truth. That is me "getting real."
"For I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20