A Tale of Two Ballers

I am a huge Seahawks fan. It's kind of weird to have them be so good, honestly. Seattle sports fans aren't really used to that.

I grew up loving the '90s Sonics who had the soul crushing NBA Finals loss to the Michael-Jordan-in-his-prime Chicago Bulls. And then the Sonics just *poof* stopped existing in 2008. We got to watch once in a lifetime draft pick Kevin Durant go play in Oklahoma freaking City and make it to the Finals within a few years, after basically a decade of sucking.

I was dizzy over the '95 Mariners coming back from 0-2 in the ALDS and beating the Yankees (!!!)...only to rather quickly succumb to Cleveland, who went on lose in the World Series. The record tying 2001 Mariners won 116 games in the regular season and...well...went back to being the Mariners in the playoffs.

The Seahawks were pretty good in 2003, but there was the worst moment in Seahawks OT history when Seattle won the toss and our QB Matt Hasselbeck made a ballsy claim...and later threw the game ending pick-6. Sigh. And then, when the Seahawks were finally REALLY good in 2005, the travesty known in our home as the Super Bowl that Shall Not be Named happened. And we all collectively dried our tears on jerseys rank with decades of Seattle sports disappointment.

But then Pete Carroll came. He started talking about always competing, every single guy on the 53 man roster mattering and being the very best they can. He reminds them that no matter who else overlooked them, they were chosen for this team because they are good enough to be here and to succeed. Pete, in his 60s and the second oldest coach in the NFL, makes some of the guys hovering mid-40s to 50 look like cranky, crotchety old men (here's looking at you, Jim Harbaugh. Though, best of luck at Michigan--beating the 49ers just won't be the same without you!). The biggest change Pete brought was an attitude that always expects to win. Not, "Hey, you win some, you lose some, but to win you better learn how to be perfect."

No, somehow his expectation that you always compete means that no matter what just happened on the field, you don't yell at a guy. You don't berate them for ruining things for the team, for you. Rather, you encourage them that you have seen them at their best and the next opportunity to make the big play is always just a play away. When you see guys yelling at each other, it's pretty much always them telling one another they can do this, to just believe that they are always capable of being their very best, of winning. It's less about beating the other team and more about not beating themselves.

Last year, the 2013 season, this philosophy had me amped up. Yes, I loved that we were winning. Who wouldn't? But there was this moment in early December when I was watching these guys celebrate one another, play for one another, fight for one another, and win for one another. It got me just beyond excited. I remember telling my husband that I wanted this team, these guys, to be the ones to go in the history books as the first Seattle Seahawks team to win the Super Bowl.

And you know what? We did.

So usher in this year. Long story short, it's been a decade since a Super Bowl winning team even won a playoff game. Yet this team might finally break the tide. We opened with the toughest NFL schedule at home against Green Bay and won handily. But then we looked like a shell of ourselves against San Diego. Loss. Beat Denver (again). Bye week. Beat the Indigenous Peoples on MNF. And then, back-to-back losses at home against Dallas and in St. Louis. Oof. We slugged out three more wins, but then lost a close game that's just the type we usually win on the road in Kansas City. And I remember thinking we just didn't look like the same team. There were flashes of brilliance, but something felt off. We were 6-4, probably couldn't make the playoffs if we lost one more game, and about to enter the hardest part of our schedule, arguably the hardest six game stretch for any team. I remember thinking I felt like we could win all six but man alive, not if we kept being this weird, quasi-us team. We had to get back to that for-one-another team, and then we could win those 6 games in a row and make some history.

Guess what? We did,

Russell Wilson celebrating back to back trips to the Super Bowl
I could go on about these guys for so long. You can read about the team turn around here; it's a pretty great article that helps you understand why these guys are so special. But you know what I really love about this team? They embody the Gospel. Let me explain with a tale of two ballers, the triumph of Jermaine Kearse and the tragic tale of Brandon Bostick.

During a miracle--no, really, miracle--comeback in the NFC Championship, the Seahawks were coming back from a 16-0 deficit. They managed a tricksy TD in the third quarter, but with three minutes left in the game they were down 19-7. And a few things started to go their way. After a quick TD, suddenly the score was 19-14, the clock said 2:09 left in the game and if, by some crazy miracle, we could recover an onside kick and score another touchdown then we WOULD BE WINNING.

These stats are from 2009 (some from 2011 were basically the same) but when a receiving team is expecting an onside kick the percentage of the time the kicking team successfully recovers is 20%. A paltry one in five chance. Four times, you fail. One time, you succeed, statistically speaking.

Green Bay had a solid plan. They lined up their best hands on the team, Jordy Nelson, right where the ball was obviously going. They asked third string, second year tight end Brandon Bostick to block for Nelson so he could have a clear line on the ball. And as you watch the kick, it's a perfect plan. The ball is high in the air, headed right for Nelson and Bostick just has to tackle the Seattle dude on his way for the ball. But then Bostick makes the split second decision to try and field the ball himself. It's a poor decision, as it's higher than he expects and instead of landing right in Nelson's hands it bounces off Bostick's helmet and into the arms of that Seattle dude, Chris Matthews.

Brandon Bostick, post the infamous nonside (for Green Bay) recovery.
Not pictured: a man who needs to be shaken and screamed at.

I'm pretty sure you could have heard the Puget Sound from deep outer space. Everyone I know was going absolutely insane. The CLink was utter madness. Meanwhile, Bostick was being completely ripped into on the sideline by his special teams coach. Aikman and Buck narrated the camera cutting to Bostick sitting on the bench alone. We get one flit of a moment when WR Randall Cobb comes up to give Bostick a, "Hey, keep your head up, dude," tap of encouragement. But beyond that, pretty damn lonely on that bench was Bostick. Maybe some kindness happened off camera. However, we have reports that after the game Bostick mostly sat alone in his locker, red-eyed from crying. In the post game interview with him, it's heartbreaking. He says he let his team down, his family down, all of the fans down. It's clear that, to Brandon Bostick, he alone cost the Packers the Super Bowl on one blown assignment.

Also, the media piled. it. on. There were at least three, maybe four or five, more references to Bostick blowing the game just in the last few minutes of the NFC Championship by Aikman and Buck. I have Around the NFL from NFL Network on my TV right now, and in showing the onside kick replay for the zillionth time, the host chatters, "Brandon Bostick had the chance! If he'd only done his job." Ouch. I really don't want to see social media comments from angry Packers fans, that's for sure.

Now let's talk Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse. The first four times Russell Wilson threw to him resulted in four interceptions. Two were questionable, forced throws but two were absolutely Kearse's fault. The last one came with five minutes left in the game, and with only five minutes it seemed pretty improbable that Seattle could get the ball back and score two touchdowns. And yet, on Seattle's side, Doug Baldwin is sitting right next to Kearse; there's no you-failed-Siberian-bench on the Seattle sideline. We later learn that Russell Wilson told Kearse to basically get amnesia because the next time the ball comes his way, Russ knows Kearse will catch it.

Crazy enough, all the things Seattle needs to win happen. Get ball back. Score quick TD. Onside kick recovered. Score another quick TD. Make the craziest two point conversion ever. Ok, allowing Green Bay to kick the FG and tie the game wasn't the best. But then the Seahawks win the OT coin toss, get the ball, complete a crazy third down conversion to Doug Baldwin, and then, after telling offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell that he was going to throw the game winning TD to Jermaine Kearse up the middle of the field, Russell Wilson did just that.

After the game, there's this hugely emotional, tear-filled hug between Wilson and Kearse, each thanking the other for believing in him. Russ is straight up sobbing postgame. He told Erin Andrews that God is so good and he just felt so honored to be on this team with these guys, that they never gave up on him.  At the post-game press conference, Kearse is still choked up, even apologizing to the press for his inability to clearly articulate because it's all so emotional still. It's incredible. Also shown just after the game was Doug Baldwin celebrating with Kearse, certainly telling him something along the lines of, "I knew you could do it! You had this! We both know who you are!"

Sobbing Wilson and Kearse. Insert additional sobbing from me.

Awkward emotional face on Kearse, but the support Baldwin showed was incredible.

I need to caveat here that there are reports of GB players giving "hey bro" taps to Bostick after the game. It's not like he was cast into a corner and stoned alive. But I really have to contrast the way that Bostick's coach berated him, the way no one came and sat beside him to say, "Hey, we're in this together," is so illustrative of the "earn your right to be used by God" mindset. Sure, grace saved you , but now you better work hard and perform and be perfect. That's why you practice in sports--with enough repetition, you can be so good at something that you are perfect. In the church / Christian realm, if you study the Bible and obey and do good things enough you won't even sin hardly anymore. But if you don't keep being perfect, beware the wrath of the play caller who clearly TOLD you what to do.

But then there's the real Gospel, the gospel of grace as exhibited by the Seattle Seahawks. On the game winning TD drive, one deep 35 yard pass was thrown to Doug Baldwin, the first Seahawks offensive player to touch the ball...and who subsequently fumbled it away. Yet fast-forward through four quarters into overtime and Doug Baldwin gets the big catch that sets up, on the next play, another deep throw to the guy who had four interceptions on four throws yet this one is caught for the game winning TD. There is no punishment for previous mistakes. Russell Wilson nor Jermaine Kearse ever even had to question being benched for their four turnovers, and because they knew Pete Carroll and the coaching staff completely believed in them and had their back, they had the confidence to go out and give it their all.

When the game looked over for Seattle, everyone seemed to accept it except the actual team, coaches, and 12th man. I'd have to go rewatch but I am pretty sure that the INT at five minutes left had Buck and Aikman already talking like Green Bay had won it. But not the Seahawks. They played for each other. They knew who they were--a team of brothers who battle through adversity and fight until the clock says :00. They knew their coaches nor their teammates would abandon them. They couldn't screw up and lose their place on the team, lose the love nor camaraderie nor sense of belonging that they already had. And so they built each other up, believed in one another against all sensible emotion, and they won.

Isn't that just the Gospel? The real Gospel? Not that "obey and be perfect" crap, but that we are so accepted by Jesus Christ, so completely already his, that he trusts us to do our best. Do you think Brandon Bostick needed to be made to feel small? Did his face look like a guy who thought, "I don't care what I was supposed to do--I did what I wanted and given the chance I'd do it all over a-damn-gain," to you?

My post on Brandon Bostick's Facebook page.

No. Just no. He was a man crushed in spirit. He felt the wrath that will inevitably create (or, more likely, nurture) fear of failure in the future. I promise you that if Jermaine Kearse didn't catch that game winning TD, if it were indeed another INT that led to GB coming back to end the Seahawks' season, he simply wouldn't be in the same pit of despair. He could hurt. He could feel he let his team down--per post-game interviews, both he and Russ were feeling that way already--and he could keep his head up knowing that his team still values and believes in him and the next opportunity to succeed for his brothers is just around the corner...maybe not until next fall, but still. This does not define him. Poor Bostick will probably never live down that failed onside kick. I guarantee you that clip will be back on SportsCenter hundreds of times just between now and the Super Bowl. And then again in most Seahawks and Green Bay telecasts next year. It completely sucks for that guy.

I love Doug Baldwin. I hope that one day maybe this will be
Bostick in Seahawks colors, enjoying a moment like this.

So you know what I hope? We could use a tight end. Seattle's tight ends keep getting hurt. I hope we're able to pick Bostick up as a free agent, bring him here to an atmosphere that builds him up. I hope he becomes part of the Seahawks family. And I hope that one day he makes a game winning play like Kearse's, knowing truly that he is not the sum of his mistakes but instead a valuable part of a team that isn't about perfection, but hard work only surpassed by love and belonging.

With that, I hope that parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, employers, and all people in leadership positions take a page from the Pete Carroll playbook. Give people grace. Support them, and they won't crumble under the pressure to be perfect, a desire they hold for themselves as much as you but can never attain. But with grace? They will surprise you at their ability to soar when not ruled by fear of failing to perform perfectly. They'll accomplish what they can do at their very best, free from fear and motivated by love.

Quite a few Christians could learn from that as well.


Stuff Mah Belly [and Mah Heart]

So, I haven't written in ages. It's mostly just because life is busy. But, with that, most of the stuff was heavy and hard, and I know the last 18 months have been rough on our family and I am not ashamed of that, but who wants to write about only hard stuff all of the time? It's emotionally exhausting enough to live through but sometimes writing about it feels like such a relief and therapeutic and gracious and then other times it feels like work. I refuse to let writing feel like work, so nope.

See that? It's at the end of this post. You can replicate it. And die of happiness.

Today there is a sliiiiiiightly heavy component to why I'm posting. Well, really heavy. But then after that is some much needed joy and grace I am dying to share. And then life changing deliciousness (no, really. And I just adapted the recipe so I am not even bragging like I made it up, but even if I did it's too good to try and be modest about). So there's lots of goodness!

First, the heavy. I have had myriad health issues that have just been, to be perfectly blunt, a real bitch. Mothering two toddlers with a husband who works a fairly demanding full-time job (and commutes 2.5 hours a day to get to and fro) and then another 12-14 hours on the side to get us in a better financial position [read: pay off mounds of student loans] can wear on a person. Add in that the two toddlers have autism and there're a lot of therapies and appointments and communication and meetings and plans and new therapies and insurance and...it's a LOT. And then add in that I am constantly exhausted, 250 pounds but can't lose weight (and the one diet that did work made me incredibly sick), cold and irritable and constantly feeling like my raw nerves are being run over a cheese grater and it's just tough. Not even to mention all of the Mars Hill and church yuck, and having people cry when we left and swear we would not stop being friends and then, 6 short months later, basically two relationships remain. It just turned to radio silence. I did all of the checking in with people and when my life just didn't let me constantly sustain relationships nobody reached out. No one checked in.

Worst of all, I realized that this probably would have happened even if we stayed at the same church as these people because if a relationship requires me to do all of the pursuing all of the time then it really doesn't matter how much the people say I mean to them. When you want someone in your life, and that person is willing to be in your life, then you keep them in your life. But if the second their life gets hard and they can't text or keep saying, "Hey, we should get together," the relationship turns to nothing but maaaaybe a random Facebook like or Instagram heart then, sadly, it wasn't a healthy friendship. And it's really, really hard for me to admit this still, but, after a looooot of discussion, my husband helped me see that it drains me to be the constant pursuer. To feel like a friendship will die unless I keep initiating conversation and contact isn't a healthy burden to bear. He encouraged me to simply not text or initiate conversations and see what happened...and that's the radio silence. No invites to Seahawks games like we were promised. No, "Hey, how are you?" texts. Nor a, "Hey, this article made me think of you," link-share on Facebook. Or even a text to say, "My life sucks and can you pray for me because this Mars Hillmageddon is death to my soul." And not even just initiating--some of them didn't even reply to texts when I would check in. Just nothing.  I get that they were going through a lot with the MH implosion, too, but we're talking about a solid two to four months now of just not a single word. Ouch.

So that has been hard a revelation for me, because I felt really guilty and like I needed to fix it. I must be the one failing them somehow. But how is it failure to be a good friend to cease being the sole pursuer? Am I actually the problem in that scenario? And if the person actually didn't enjoy me, didn't enjoy being friends, then a: they lied to me and that's not on me, either, and b: it's actually a relief to us both for me to let the relationship die so they don't have to keep up the facade and I don't have to carry the weight and burden of sustaining the relationship. It's certainly not a good basis for a friendship, to feel like it can only exist if I do all of the pursuing. It's actually just not a friendship.

So...yeah. I guess people will read this and thing, "Is this about me?" And it sucks, but if you are thinking that then it probably is. Like I said, two relationships remain. I am not even thinking of nor referring to any one or two people specifically--it's the whole lot. But it is what it is and I know eventually I will feel really free because the sadness will ebb. But yes...losing all of our friends, or at least the people we thought were our friends, who promised that our friendship was "all about Jesus" and not Mars Hill, has been hard.

[Side note: if you read this, and you think, "Is this me?" and you think, "Wait, but I felt hurt by her and like she didn't want me around," or, "Oh, gosh, I totally dropped the ball. I love Tami and I don't want the relationship to die!" then reach out to me. I know we can work through that, even if I do feel hurt by you or vice versa. But this is NOT me passive aggressively avoiding talking to people but trying to guilt trip them through some ambiguous public post. It's not because I want YOU to know this but I don't want to deal with telling you. Again, I wasn't thinking of names or faces. It's actually so many people that I couldn't really start with specific people to try and go talk to this about it if I wanted to. And, plus, going to people, initiating the conversation about why I'm the only initiator is pretty much the exact opposite of what the relationship needs. If people miss me, want me in their life, they'll reach out. I kind of hope the people this applies to don't read it because "fixing" anything isn't the point. The point is more what I learned through the experience and how there's a lot happening now that I couldn't see or appreciate had I not had the yucky stuff happen. And honestly, I wanted to delete allllll of the relationship stuff, because, gah, what if people think I just want attention? But then I remembered mentioning this in passing tonight--leaving MH and having pretty much every relationship die--and every other person who also has left MH over the last 8 years nodded their heads, and many shared how they have experienced or are experiencing the same thing. So this isn't just for me, no matter how hard it is for me to be this raw about it.]

Oof. Now you know why I don't like writing about it, because I can't deny the pain and how hard it has been but I just can't present it all pretty and cleaned up. It's hard. It's ugly. The health and family and relationship and leaving basically a cult issues are so much. I am weary to my very bones most days. There is such beauty and grace, too, which will come in justasecond, k?

So one thing that gave us some answers and sort of relief on the health front was that I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease. You can read the symptoms here; I have pretty much all of those. And the worst part is that, yes, medication can make me feel sorta kinda ok but never well and meanwhile my body will just keep destroying my thyroid until it's just gone. Yay, autoimmune disorders! Except no. I do not want my thyroid to just be dead and gone. Not to mention it is a huuuuuge PITA to have to take 3 pills the second I wake up, have nothing but water for an hour, then nothing but water from 12-2pm so I can take two more pills at 1pm. And I can't take any other of the gazillion vitamins and supplements I need within 6 hours of said pills, which puts me at 7pm at night but, oh, hey, btw, I can't take certain ones after 2 in the afternoon or else I won't be able to sleep at night. But I can't not take them. But if I do take them too soon the thyroid meds don't work. BARF.

So what does that mean? It means that I need to heal my thyroid. I'm still reading various books, but the very best way is to cut out all grains (especially wheat / gluten) and soy. For some people it will include dairy and caffeine. I will have testing to be sure what exactly I am sensitive to, but I have to have a super restricted diet. Oh, and because of the various insulin issues I have, I already can't have any sugar. For the holidays I am not being insanely strict, just careful, and if I want something then it has to be a very small amount, just a treat. But starting after Christmas I have to get insanely strict, because some people are so sensitive that one instance of eating gluten can set back thyroid recovery six months. SIX MONTHS. Seriously, when I read that, I almost wanted to give up.

But I can't give up. I have two gorgeous kids and I really, really want two more. And, even apart from wanting to lose more weight, I want to FEEL better. I don't need to feel amazing and go climb mountains but I want enough energy to not feel like crying at the thought of climbing our stairs.

And can I just say something here? I do not think my life is so much worse than anyone else's. Our church (which I am dying to talk about, so next paragraph! Promise!) started Bible studies for men and women on alternating weeks. At the first one for the women we shared prayer requests. And, my goodness. I'm a super empathetic person (I have finally accepted that about myself) so I cry even when the person sharing isn't crying. But I cried over and over, as did almost every woman in the room. I won't betray the trust of mah ladeez, but believe me when I tell you that just two to three of the stories of where people are in their life right this very second would make you go, "No. I am done. Too heavy. Too sad. Too much." So, I don't think I'm "Tami Hagglund, she living with a really hard life." I'm "Tami Hagglund, human liver of a life on Earth."

So then. Let's talk about the grace. We have an incredible church. Like, any non-abusive and generally non-a-hole culture in a church would have been a nice rest. But we are in a church where I just keep finding myself thinking, "Is this too good to be true? Are we really this wanted and loved because EVERYONE here is this wanted and loved?" There was a family spoken of with such affection that I assumed they had been there the whole time (the church is I think about 18 months to 2 years old; it's a PCA* church plant) but then I found out they started coming about a month before us last May. And if you came to a gathering you sincerely would not be able to tell who has been there the whole time and who has only been there since last summer. It's honestly incredible. [*PCA=Presbyterian Church of America. Maybe someday I will write about how I went to a Presbyterian college university and NEVER thought I would be a Presbyterian. But, honestly, I love it there so much. I even actually enjoy liturgy. But that's just a rabbit hole!]

But, really, it just speaks to the character of Jesus and how when people are living out the Gospel with one another and aren't caught up in the binders of law and works and performance and pressure to make the church succeed there is just a lot more sweetness and grace. Relationships just flow. And when the culture is, "Yes, we are sinners, but we also worship a big God who calls us to our identity in him," instead of constantly assuming people are only being horrible and are led by ugly motives all the time then there is a lot more genuine compassion and joy in knowing and being known. Seriously. It still feels too good to be true, but as my pastor and his wife tenderly pointed out, when you come out of such an abusive church where you are actually being perpetually coerced and sinned against in evil and ugly ways  it's to be expected that "regular" and "normal sinner" church life will take some adjustment.

And on that pursuing front? Jason was telling me how Mars Hill was the clique-iest church he has ever been in. We talked about how maybe everyone felt like they were the only ones on the outside looking in, and maybe people even perceived us to be on the inside, but I tried so incredibly hard to make multiple relationships be actual, real, face to face relationships. It never happened. It did happen for others to get together, for others who both said they wanted that same type of actually-hangs-out relationship with me, but they didn't actually reciprocate my attempts for it to happen with me. And the reason I say this is that in just a few months at Trinitas, even with our stupid schedule that requires planning sometimes a whole month out, we've had multiple gatherings with people--friends over for dinner, or Jason meeting up with another husband for lunch since they both work in Downtown Seattle, that kind of stuff. I'm being pestered (lovingly) to move to Snohomish since a lot of the people who are trying to hang out with me more (more there in a second) know how hard it is for me to get to them since they all live 40 minutes north of me (NOT in traffic. If you know this area then you know that *in* traffic isn't even worthy to think of). We'll see. I really, really love Redmond. But in Snohomish we could get a nice house and a little patch of land and chickens and goats and a garden still for less than what we'd pay for a horrible still-reppin'-the-'80s house with no yard and neighbors closerthanthis so...we'll see.

But anyway (say it like Joel McHale in The Soup) the point is that Jason was seeing women love me and want to know me, and one night when wrestling about whether we were for sure committing to Trinitas long term and not looking elsewhere, he said, "Tami, even if all of the theology wasn't as amazing as it is, or the leadership as solid, I would want to stay at Trinitas simply because for the first time in our marriage I am seeing women love and pursue you the way you tirelessly love and pursue others." If you know Jason, that theology and leadership part is HUGE. It's always first and almost his only priority.

I was so shocked at what he said, though, because I always think I am the problem. I didn't do enough. Or people didn't want to know me and were just polite but that's my fault because I am a yucky burden and, ew, who would want to have to spend any more time with me than they were obligated by their Christianity to have to? I wish I could tell you that I write that and only think, "Ugh, stupid lies!" but so much of my heart still thinks, "Yeah, duh." But I think Jason is right, at least that for the first time relationships are healthily two way and some ladies even pursue me more than I pursue them but it's because they just legit want to know me, and it's Jesus pouring grace upon grace over me. At Bible study Wednesday it was such an amazing connection of souls with ladies who love me and I love them that, as I marveled, I realized that Jesus was applying salve and binding up my long open and festering wounds ala the Good Samaritan that he is.

This all connects because tonight we had the sweetest Friendsgiving with our Trinitas peeps. And even though I loooooove regular old glutenous stuffing I needed to bring gluten free, grain free, & low carb goodness to nourish my body. And to assuage the guilt of the piece of regular ol' Costco apple pie that I just needed to have. But this stuffing--life changing, people. It's really great for ketogenic diets! No grains, no dairy, low carb, no sugar, no flours of any kind (not even almond or nut flours). Just fatty, meaty, veggie AMAZINGNESS.

I had a recipe that I totally changed and plus I couldn't link to it, but so many people said, "You HAVE to give me this recipe!" that I decided to just write it up real quick. Except me + writing is never real quick. Ask my friend Becky about the text messages she gets :)

Sorry there isn't much in terms of pictures, but honestly, it's so good and goes so quickly that getting a good pic is hard to do! But, speaking of pictures, before the recipe--you made it this far, so I think you'll survive--these are some sweet "living life" shots that the host grabbed with his phone camera. The first one is Juliet because I can't handle how cute she is in those glasses! But the rest are of  me because when I was looking at them I saw the sweet joy on my face. I was taken aback by it, TBCH. That is the face of a soul at rest, people. And half the people I was talking to were friends of church members whom I was meeting for the first time--that's how comfortable this group is. Even brand new people just get to chill and get to be known a bit. But then some of the people are dear friends and my heart lightens with joy just thinking about how grateful I am that they are now in my life.

So now, the stuffing. Make this. I promise it will be easier to go grain free. You know when you bring something to a potluck and you are flattered that people ate every last morsel but you feel sorry for yourself because even though there was tons of food and lots of leftovers your dish has no leftovers and you didn't make any extra? Yeah. This is one of those recipes.

Oh--and, since I forgot to take a picture at home, I will try to post next week the grain free & sugar free lemony goodness that I made for dessert since that, too, was a favorite and was gone before I could have taken a pic at the gathering. And I also had multiple people begging me for the recipe, and it's another I can't link to (and plus I tweaked it anyway). I plan to make it for our actual Thanksgiving and will get a pic then!

Ok. The stuffing. It's midnight thirty but I know I will never be on my laptop in the next few days and some people were interested in making this for actual Thanksgiving so just forcing myself to git. 'er. dun.

And again, because, well, oops. The only picture there will ever be of that pan of ecstasy is this one.

Paleo Low Carb Stuffing (Ketogenic diet friendly)

3 lbs ground sausage
2T grass fed butter
Whole bunch celery, chopped
Large Yellow Onion, chopped
2 bags / cartons sliced baby portabella mushrooms (or crimini. But please no white button!)
4-6 cloves minced garlic (or more if you love it like I do!)
1t sea salt
2t freshly ground black pepper
3-4T fresh herbs, chopped (I did a combo of roughly even amounts of sage, thyme, & rosemary)
2 cups crushed pork rinds
[if not strictly paleo then 1/4 cup ground parmesan is a great addition; just really watch the salty flava]

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Cook sausage over medium heat and break into small pieces in large pan (6 quart minimum)
3. Remove sausage with slotted spoon, reserving fat in the pan, and placing sausage in large bowl to mix later
4. Add butter to pan and allow to melt
5. Gently saute all veggies, adding all herbs and spices, until just barely soft
6. Again using slotted spoon, remove all veggies and add to sausage in bowl; leave the liquid!
7. Allow the juices & butter to reduce for a couple minutes until it's thickened but not syrupy (mine took about 7 minutes at medium heat)
8. Add reduced "sauce" to the meat and veggies--don't waste that glorious buttery herby amazingness!
9. Add pork rinds
10. Gently mix, then place in 13x9 casserole dish
11.  Bake for 50 minutes*
12. Serve and listen to people rave and not even care that it's paleo, unless they have dietary restrictions, in which case they will thank you profusely for making something that they can eat, and, holy snapdragons, it's stupid good. Like, slap the chef  good. Rejoice that butter and fat are not bad for you and this is legit GOOD for you!

*or, if you are making ahead of time, place in fridge and then bake later for 60 minutes if straight from fridge. I would GUESS 70-80 if frozen but that's up to you to experiment with!

Voila! If you make this let me know what you think! I never make things the same way twice, so mine today actually had baby kale hearts from Costco. I think carrots would be great, or some par-baked bite size yams tossed in; those both up the carb content quite a bit, though. Or maybe another onion because I love them. OOOOOOh, or leeks! So many possibilities! All I know is I brought home an empty pan that was stuffed to the brim when I arrived, and multiple people told me it was hands down the best stuffing they ever had. So woo-hoo! I think this is *the* stuffing recipe we'll use from now on. My friend Brittany said this would be a great standalone dinner with a sunny side up egg on top. And I almost died at the thought. So, yeah, that WILL be happening at some point!

Ok. Eyelids are sand paper. Jason is snoring on the couch next to me, too tired to even watch the crazy whooping his Montana Griz laid down on the Montana State Bobcats in Cat-Griz this afternoon. I am sorta watching and at 9:33 in the THIRD QUARTER the Griz just got their fifth interception and sixth turnover. Does the score even matter at that point? But, FWIW, it's 27-0. I digress. Late and tired, it is and I am. Hoping for the best in content and grammar and hitting publish. ;)


I {heart} Tullian


This is why I love Tullian.

We can say we don't believe God helps those who helps themselves, but don't we live the opposite of that? 

I sure do. Trying, trying, trying. Do and say and think and feel and be all the right things because God is holy, doncha know. Trying to raise myself from the dead and prove to God that saving me wasn't a waste of time.

Tuesday's post just hit me anew after writing it,like someone else wrote it and really got into my head and heart. That happens to me with other people's posts all the time, but to have my own hit me that way was new! But man alive, I can't do this Christian life thing very well on my own, so when I heard this quote in a Tullian sermon (part 4 of his Romans series) I just had to share it!

Let us remember that dead people don't raise themselves up to life today. Let us honestly admit our need of the one who does.