Downtown

It’s not often that I go off and do my own ‘thing’ in the evening and leave the Hubs to take care of the kiddos, and when I do, it’s usually for a planned event that I ‘should’ go to, or a much-needed GNO. 

Yesterday was a rare exception.

A dear friend that I love to spend time with invited me to ride along with her to go downtown (Columbus, OH). I love leaving my cozy suburbia to romp around downtown at the fun restaurants, shows, busy nightlife (and the Hubs and I even went down to a salsa dancing bar last weekend!)  I used to live near the OSU campus area, and we went to church down near the Short North for about 10 years, but I never on my own would have thought of going downtown to do what we were going to do. 

We were picking up a gal that I had heard great things about, but it was my first time meeting her. Her name is Carly.  Carly had with her several cute little bags that she had made up – and we were going to go scour the streets for women to give these bags to.  Not just any women, but specific women.  Women who are lingering on the streets. Prostitutes. Addicts. Those being sex-trafficked. Image

It was a drizzly, mild-temperature night.  Driving around in a specific neighborhood that my two friends have become familiar with over the last several months, we soon saw some the individuals that we were looking for. We would pull up next to a lady and Carly would jump out of the car and approach the lady with a small cute bag of personal hygiene items and attempt to talk to her.  While many of these women are strung out on something and are unable to hold a conversation, she usually could get one important piece of information from them…their name.

My friends actually know these women by name! They would see a girl walking and ask each other, “Is that ‘Cheyenne’?” or ” I haven’t seen ‘Melissa’ for months…I hope she’s ok.”  They know which ladies are open to talking, which ones appreciate a bag of goodies, and which ones are ready to run at first sight.  They remember which one refused the coat that they offered to them on the sub-zero temperature night this winter because it would make them look “ugly” (and not get business).

These prostitutes are stuck. Some because of being trafficked, some because of having ‘no way out’ and almost all of them because of drugs.  They have no hope. They need someone else to have hope for them, and to care about them enough to take a chance on them.

Reaching For the Shining Starz” is an organization that Carly has put together as a way of reaching out to these women and letting them know that there are people who care, and that there is help (and hope) out there for them!  She collects (and often buys on her own) personal care items like washcloths, small soaps, chapstick, granola bars, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. and buys cute little bags to put them in to hand out to these ladies. But that’s not all – she includes a paper that has the name and number for many different organizations that can offer them help.  Drug rehab, shelters, you name it.

Are you feeling touched yet? If not, consider this: Jesus ministered to the ‘untouchables’. He hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes and lepers.  My Bible study lately has been on the story in John chapter 4, about how Jesus didn’t condemn the ‘woman caught in adultery’! He showed her grace and mercy, and told her to, “Go, and sin no more.” 

That’s one thing that gets me. I admit it. I find myself at times quick to judge. I’ll think, “yeah, I’d never get caught up in drugs, or sell myself on the street.” But Jesus looks at my ugly, horrible sin for exactly what it is: The same as one of these prostitute’s detestable acts….SIN.

I’m no different, I just sin differently. How about you?

NOW are you feeling touched? My heart hurts for these women, even when we see them relieving themselves on the side of a building. Maybe you feel called to go down to the inner city and seek out prostitutes to show love and kindness to. Maybe that totally freaks you out, and understandably so, but you would consider helping to stuff some bags or donate personal care items, or money to help support this cause. (check out & ‘Like’ Reaching For the Shining Starz’s FB page to learn more.)  Carly plans to have information and a collection box at my Clothing Swap GNO event on April 26th in Dublin, OH. Ladies, check out the awesome event and please bring some items to help support her!

One last thought that I want to leave you with…Psalm 91.  I ‘happened’ to open up to it this morning and I was struck by it in many different ways. I’ll probably expound upon it at a later date, but one of the ideas comes from the part about being ‘rescued’ and having ‘armor and protection’ through His (God’s) faithful promises. He says that He will rescue those who love Him. Romans 8:28 says that, “He works everything together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them.”

Many thoughts come to mind about this, but for certain, I know that I need to post this passage below, for somebody out there. You may not be a prostitute or drug addict, but you might need to hear what these words say…you may need to know that YOU can call on God and He will answer you, that he’ll be with you in trouble (vs 4). That He’ll rescue you. (vs 15).  So read this and feel free to leave a comment about how it impacts you:

Psalm 91 (New Living Translation)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

Amen!!

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That’s Yucca!

Those of you who are on my Simply Enrich FB page might have seen my post last Tuesday suggesting a ‘Try something new Tuesday” dinner tradition (and if you aren’t on my FB page, please take a second and ‘Like‘ it now! 🙂 It could be a product item, like a new fruit, vegetable, or fresh herb, or maybe tofu, or simply try a new healthy recipe! Well, I realized that I needed to get to the store because I wasn’t up for a whole new recipe, so a produce item was going to be it that night.
Searching through the produce department refrigerated wall at Kroger, I realized that there are several items that I have not yet tried, and hadn’t a clue of how to prepare. Then I saw it — THE try-it Tuesday item! It was a big, brown, bumpy, ugly root. Kinda resembled a fossilized elephant turd or something.Yucca Root Yucca root? What kind of name is that? I’m sure if it were tasty they would call it “yumma root”, so I could only imagine what I was in for. My kids were less than excited, to say the least.

Now how to prepare this…thing?!  I saw an older Indian woman looking at the same area, so I asked her if she knew how to eat it. She did, and she told me to peel it, boil it, and then cut it and eat it. Said it tasted like tapioca pudding. Mmmmm!! It didn’t sound so ‘yucca’ at all!
The journey didn’t end there. The check out line was even more interesting. Like 15 minutes of interesting ;). Of course I didn’t think to grab a yucca root with a sku number sticker on it, I mean, every cashier has the sku number for yucca root memorized, right? Lol
So the sweet cashier kept looking for the item up on the cheat sheet, but it wasn’t there — the sheet stopped at ‘T’ (what about ‘watermelons’ & ‘yams’?!) I sent my 9 year old to find another yucca with a sticker. Meanwhile, I’m apologizing to the cashier and the man in line behind me. They were both very understanding and patient…maybe even a little, dare I say… intrigued.
I shared with them about the try-something-new-Tuesday challenge I had posted and the reason behind my somewhat odd purchase. It was quite the conversation piece. When the guy behind me said that I was a very unusual American for trying new things like this, I shared about the International Cooking group that I’m a part of and how I actually love to broaden my taste buds’ horizons and try new things. He asked me for my card to give his daughter who loves stuff like that. I happened to have a few cards hiding in my purse and I handed him one.   The cashier asked for one, too (maybe you guys are reading this right now since the web-link is on the card, and if so, thank you so much for your patience last week!)
My son returned with another yucca… without a sticker. Third yucca was the charm. We could finally check out and be on our way, and was asked to report back how the experiment turned out.
The Yucca experiment.

Even though the kind Indian lady gave me great directions, I was a bit intimidated by getting the rough, waxed peel off of the root.  I mean, seriously — how in the heck?!  I knew I needed backup. Gotta love Google. Here it is for you in case you want to learn more or try a recipe:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/cook-serve-yucca-root-8371.html
I admit, even with my sharp Cutco© knife, I didnt quite chop the root into small pieces like the recipe advised:, so I gave up on that:IMG_20140325_185935_691To keep this article short, since I didn’t intent for it to become a cooking post, I followed the directions from the website above and boiled the yucca root. IMG_20140325_193339_763

I got kinda impatient after awhile and eventually settled for nearly-yet-not-all-the-way-cooked.  Then I added some milk, roasted garlic, and squeezed lemon juice, and salt. Potato mashed it as much as possible.  It turned out fine. I wish I would’ve taken the time to cook a bit better, but even at this point, I got to taste the ‘yucca’, and it wasn’t “yucky” 😉

IMG_20140325_195208_704

Gotta love trying new things – variety is the spice of life.

For those interested, here are some good nutrition facts on yucca root:  http://www.livestrong.com/article/341685-yucca-root-nutrition/

I’d love to hear from anyone else that is taking me up on this challenge!  I’ll report back on the recent Try-something-new-Tuesday episode here soon 😉