Discover more from Release and Gather
The 2023 May Collection
: sheet pan dinners, from El Salvador to America, and why I'm not a fan of Mother's Day :
For those of you who are new subscribers (I’m looking at you, Esther, Grace, Keren, Kathleen, Gus, A.M., Jenifer, iskdh, Steve, jadonelly, and rb—welcome!), each month I publish a collection of what I’m discovering—recipes, books, articles, movies, or music—and conclude each post with something I’m noticing. I enjoy reading what others are discovering, so please join the discussion in the comments and tell us what’s new in your world.
Check out past collections if you missed them:
THE 2023 FEBRUARY COLLECTION - flatbread, books that challenge, and the glorious full moon
THE 2023 MARCH COLLECTION - the best meal I've ever cooked, bumping into a Mississippi author, and more on listening
THE 2023 APRIL COLLECTION - soups, pain, and finding my nothing box
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
*You can use these links to jump around to different sections
What I’m Cooking
Continuing my effort to eat healthier meals, I found this delicious “soup” recipe and followed the it exactly. The level of flavor exceeded my expectations, and I served it with baby spinach, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime. I plan to try it with some brown rice and flatbread next time.
When my kids were still at home, I cooked all the time. Now that it’s just me and Mike, I often feel out of ideas. No worries, though—I messaged our daughter, Chelsea, who’s in the thick of feeding four kids. She came through with a couple of quick sheet pan dinners that filled the bill!
Greek and Lebanese is one of my favorite cuisines, and there’s no reason I can’t have it more often with recipes like this out there. Don’t skip the feta on this one—it puts it over the top. Not an olive fan? Include them anyway and make your husband happy when you give them all to him.
The combination of Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes pair fabulously in this recipe. Choose turkey sausage or leave it out entirely if you want a meatless meal. I promise these veggies will fill you up!
Send me your favorite sheet pan or one-pot recipes. The days are long, and the great outdoors beckons me to spend less time in the kitchen!
What I’m Reading
Last week I shared a quote from this book by Christian author Rebekah Lyons:
If you lose your voice, be quiet a while. It’ll come back.
I noted last month that I’d begun seeing a new therapist after a few months of feeling a bit out of sorts. She pointed out that I’ve been living in “crisis mode” for a while, and sometimes it’s difficult to figure out how to return to “normal life.” She recommended this book, and I’m gleaning so much insight and practical life application from it.
While the writer does approach the subject from a Christian perspective, I feel anyone can benefit from her experience and suggestions for an intentional life of rest, restoration, connection, and creativity. Lyons’ action items are helping me to take inventory of my days, put down the digital devices, and focus more on connecting with others.
When I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read Javier Zamora’s account of coming to the United States from El Salvador at only nine years of age.
Javier Zamora’s adventure is a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone amid a group of strangers and a “coyote” hired to lead them to safety, Javier expects his trip to last two short weeks.
At nine years old, all Javier can imagine is rushing into his parents’ arms, snuggling in bed between them, and living under the same roof again. He cannot foresee the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him; nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside fellow migrants who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.
A memoir as gripping as it is moving, Solito provides an immediate and intimate account not only of a treacherous and near-impossible journey, but also of the miraculous kindness and love delivered at the most unexpected moments. Solito is Javier Zamora’s story, but it’s also the story of millions of others who had no choice but to leave home.
It reminded me a bit of a book I featured in last year’s August Collection, A Sea Between Us, which tells of Yosely Pereira’s harrowing trip from Cuba to America. Books like these open our minds to people and experiences we could never imagine. Stories grow empathy and compassion in us and help us understand that certain issues are not as cut and dried as political parties would have us believe. I grew up in the rural American South, but I thank God for libraries and books. I met people, traveled to other countries, and experienced different cultures because of the printed page. Expand your world and read Javier’s story.
What I’m Noticing
We have arrived at the second Sunday in May, which is—at least in the United States—a day nearly as sacred as Christmas or Easter. For the last few weeks, men and women, boys and girls have been bombarded with media ads, in-your-face end caps at stores, and constant reminders that you are certain to solidify your place in Hell if you forget Mother’s Day.
I’m not knocking motherhood—it is a role to be celebrated for sure, but I believe society puts way too much pressure on people to do some big thing for their moms on this one day of the year. And what about the moms who are looking forward to getting some mushy-gushy outpouring of love and affection from their kids only to be disappointed when they don’t hear from them?
When my kids were little, I tried not to make a big deal out of Mother’s Day, treating it as just another Sunday. Most Sunday afternoons they went to their dad’s, and I didn’t feel the need to keep them from that routine, and I didn’t want to put any pressure on them to do something special for me on the holiday. Sometimes they did, and that was nice, but it was totally okay for it to just be another Sunday.
Here’s an idea: celebrate your mom throughout the year. Send her a handwritten note on a random Thursday or invite her to dinner in July. Surprise her by showing up at church to worship with her on a Sunday in September or call her on a Tuesday afternoon. We shouldn’t need a day dedicated to this. Nor should people have to encounter Mother’s Day reminders for nearly a month out of every year. The word “mother” doesn’t conjure happy feelings for everyone.
Here are some thoughts I’ve penned through the years regarding this holiday.
To the woman who longs to have children and does not, yet mothers many; to the woman who desires acceptance from her mother; for the woman who just wants her mama back on this earth; to the woman whose child has grown and forgotten her; to the woman who raises those she did not give birth to; for the woman who receives no praise for her thankless job of parenting; to the woman who just wants to hold her child again; to the woman who has no idea where her child is tonight; for the woman raising those kids without a partner; for the woman surrounded by the children she loves; happy Mothers Day. I am thinking of so many of my friends who do not fit the traditional family mold. You all bring such light to those around you.
Mothers come in all colors, shapes, and sizes (figuratively and literally). No Mama gets it right 100% of the time, and no Mama can be everything to every one. Let today be filled with love, grace, and hope in the knowledge there is One who sees you and knows your heart—whatever it is feeling today.
To the woman who sits by her child for countless hours as he lies in a hospital bed; to the woman who feels unworthy because she had babies in less-than-ideal circumstances; to the woman who is June Cleaver on the outside but feeling like a tangled mess on the inside; to the woman who chose life and gave that life to someone else; to the woman battling an illness and wondering how many more of these holidays she has left; to the woman second-guessing every parenting move she’s ever made; to the woman making wise parenting decisions instead of the popular ones; to the woman whose husband died and won’t be there to say it—Happy Mother’s Day. You are strong, worthy, able, brave, alive, wise, and loved.
Mother’s Day can be so tricky, especially when we don’t live in a Leave-It-to-Beaver world. But today the stars aligned and I was able to spend time with some of my “kids.” I had the opportunity to worship with Britt; see Noah and Jonah for lunch; and fold clothes and talk about important subjects with Chelsea. If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that life isn’t always fair. But if you get too wrapped up in yourself, it’s easy to miss all the opportunities to be seized. Don’t wait for people to come to you; to make the first move; to show their hand. Go. Risk. Love.
Wherever you are, whoever you are, and whatever you’re feeling on May 14, 2023, I see you. There aren’t enough Hallmark cards in the world for every version of motherhood there is and every feeling that surfaces on this day. I’m wishing you a Sunday as beautiful and worthy as you. Happy You-Are-Fearfully-And-Wonderfully-Made Day.
What are your go-to sheet pan or one-pot recipes?
What books or stories have broadened your mind?
How are you feeling on this second Sunday of May?
Let us know in the comments!