Successful Salsa

My husband is a great cook. He can run circles around me in the kitchen. I lean more towards cooking out of boxes and cans…but he creates meals from scratch. I cook because I have to….for him, its therapy. One of his early successes was his salsa recipe (we have several variations) which got rave reviews from friends and family and people at church. So much so, that after a few years people were saying things like, “you really need to sell this salsa in stores.” Or, “when are you going to market this product – its amazing!”. Words every prideful person likes to hear.

So we did what any crazy person does…we researched our options, made phone calls, met with people, and eventually went to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January of 2006. We met and signed a contract with a company that would manufacture our salsa and walk us through the process. Of course, we wanted God to bless our endeavors so we made sure to pray about it, asking God to bless our business, and that He would allow it to be highly successful. Then jars were bought, recipes were perfected, labels were designed, money was invested and we were on our way to becoming the millionaires we thought surely we would be.

Sierra Salsa Mild Salsa
Sierra Salsa Mild Salsa

Did God answer our prayers? You betcha He did. Just not in the way we thought. One of the lessons in grace that I’ve learned is that God’s story is rarely the same story as the one I write in my mind.

Our salsa was picked up by about 10 stores in Northern California, and for a period of time it was fun to be able to say we were in “such and such” store. Then we realized a few things: we weren’t good at marketing, our product cost more to make than most others (long story…but we used better jars than we should have, better ingredients, etc. which jacks the price up and lowers your profit margin), and if we were going to become the millionaires we imagined in our minds we were going to have to hire a marketing person. Again, more moola that we didn’t have and so after about 4 years we let our dream die. Along with our millions.

Part 2 of the story: I am involved in taking a team to New York each summer to work with inner city kids, working alongside a great ministry there called called Operation Exodus. I’ve been going for 5 years, and in order to go our team has to raise a lot of money, so we have fundraisers. God, in His sovereignty has allowed me to sell salsa out on the porch of our church each year for Super Bowl, Memorial Day BBQ’s, July 4th and Labor Day celebrations and guess where the money goes? Yep…it goes to that mission trip. So, everything we prayed for; that it would be highly successful and blessed has been given to us. Did it match my story? Not so much, but in God’s economy the outcome had a much better ending than ours would have ever been. That’s the blessing.

We all tend to think that God is the bad guy when our prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be. I’m trying to think more along the lines of if the outcome brings glory to Him, then He’s answered my prayers.

Being Anchored

My husband and I hang out with a select group of friends that we like to call the “Youth Group”.  Select because we’ve chosen to be in community with them because we all like fun, fellowship, food, football (the four “f’s”), potato chips and onion dip, and we like to drink wine and various sundry beverages together.  But the common thread is that we’ve all decided that at our age, we just want to say NO to drama, and yes to grace. 

Youth Group because we all really think we’re ten years younger in our own minds and we want to hold on to just a thread of our youth.  But these people are our homies…our peeps….our go-to people who would run to our aid in a flash if there were a tragedy or a need in our lives.  We’ve prayed one another through huge life issues – from cancer, to bumpy marriages, to moving, to kid crisis’s, to weddings and to the birth of grand babies. 

Ya know how life in your 20’s and 30’s and (yes) even for some in our 40’s was riddled with people who brought drama into it? And truthfully, we probably brought a certain amount of drama into the lives of those around us as well. But something happens as we grow up. We have an “ah ha” moment and we realize that drama accounts for way too much stress in our lives and we really can make the choice to stop doing and being around drama. It’s a life-changing concept. One that I hope you come to way sooner than I did.

The purging process started for me about 10 years ago when I realized that I was going to have to limit time that I spent with “dramatic” people in my life.  Oh, not that I stopped having relationship altogether with those people…I just chose for my own sanity the when and where, but still trying to be available when needed.  That’s the tricky part. My vocation requires me to step in and out of people’s lives who sometimes are in need.  Great need.  And there are times when I need to extend love and care to them and minister to those needs.  In other words, step into their drama. 

Henri Nouwen wrote a great narrative in his book The Inner Voice of Love entitled “Remain Anchored in Your Community”.  The Youth Group is that for us. Our Community. 

He says, “It is important to remain as much in touch as possible with those who know you, love you, and protect your vocation.  If you visit people with great needs and deep struggles that you can easily recognize in your own heart, remain anchored in your home community….thus you can be very close to people in need of your healing without losing touch with those who protect your vocation.  Your community can pull you back when its members see that you are forgetting why you were sent out.  When you feel a burgeoning need for sympathy, support, affection, and care (“drama” – Kris insert) from those to whom you are being sent, remember that there is a place where you can receive those gifts in a safe and responsible way.  Do not let yourself be seduced by the dark powers that imprison those you want to set free.  Keep returning to those to whom you belong and who keep you in the light.  It is that light that you desire to bring into the darkness.  You do not need to fear anyone as long as you remain safely anchored in your community.  Then you can carry the light far and wide.” 


It’s my prayer that if you don’t have community that you seek it out. Whether in your neighborhood or your church or your bowling league or your book club or your Weight Watchers group – look for places to connect. People that can keep you in the light, and maybe even anchored.

So thanks to my community for keeping me protected. For keeping me in the light. For showing me grace by the bucketful. You know who you are. Youth Group. Anchored.

Ah Ha! Moments

I’m new at this….this blog thing. I’ve heard of Mommy bloggers, and Self-help bloggers but I’m not really sure where I fit into the whole blogging equation. So bear with me. I think I’m a Grace blogger…someone who has been discovering the meaning of grace and who has always been a “wanna be” writer. I’d love for what I write to be important to someone, even if it’s just for me to journal what I’m learning but I hope it makes a difference in the world to someone. Maybe that someone is me. Maybe my kids. Maybe my grandkids – whenever they come along.

I think what defines this blog is that its going to be filled with stories of flub ups, admissions of my flaws, my discoveries, my joys, my utter failures, my BGD moments (that’s BIG GIANT DUH), my learning experiences, the funny moments (trust me, there are many), the blessings and the on-going transformation that’s hopefully taking place in my life. I’m a recovering Pharisee and I want to be transformed to a follower of Christ. I’m still in process – it’s a journey.  And don’t you just love it that God is patient with people like me? Geez Louise….if He had dealt with me as I deserved…whew…we’d all be in a heap of trouble. And that’s what this blog is all about. Grace. The grace that He extends and that we spend a lifetime searching for.

In case you aren’t familiar with the concept of grace…here’s the Kris definition: “getting something (usually that is for our benefit) that we don’t deserve“.  The cousin of grace is mercy.  The Kris definition of mercy is: not getting something (usually bad) that we deserve“.  It’s kind of important to understand the difference between the two if you’re going to journey along with me on this adventure.

Just to clear a few things up….I’m not an academic theologian, although I am a theologian.  Anyone who follows Christ is a theologian.   And trust me – no one will remember me as someone who put words together well necessarily.  But I hope they’ll remember me as a truth teller – not the kind of truth telling that completely bulldozes people around you with the truth (“you DO know that outfit makes you look fat, don’t you”?) causing tons of collateral damage.  Nope, I hope people will remember me just as a gal that was honest about struggling to find a faith in the face of the prolific spiritual community that has often given God a bad name. I call it “real” Christianity. Real faith in the midst of a real world with real problems and real life.  There’s ____ that happens (fill in your own noun…mine started with a “c”) and I think those around me are more apt to be interested in conversation about how a sinner who happens to be saved muddles through life than that of a pious know-it-all who seems to have it all together.  I definitely don’t have it all together, but it might be fun to come along with me for this ride.

So, as I’ve journeyed, there were some definite “Ah HA” moments where I finally “got it”.  Where I started to “get” grace.  That’s the point of this blog.  And as I’ve begun to piece those moments together I thought I’d write them down in case someone else might benefit from my journey and save themselves some bumps and bruises. I dunno….we’ll see how it goes. It’s my hope that you catch a glimpse and fragrance of Christ and His grace as we hang out here together.