Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday Night Foodie: Christmas Style

Ok, so I'm a day late again, but I've been sick so I'm excusing myself and I hope you will too.  My recipe for this week is not very exciting because I'm pretty sure I've shared the pie recipe I use before, but I tried a new crust this time so I hope you enjoy it.

I tried to make pie for the two major holidays around the end of the year and since my mom loves cherry and my dad apple, I always change it up.  This year, I made apple for Thanksgiving (not sure why since my dad didn't get home until the Saturday after but it still tasted good!) and cherry for Christmas.  The purist in me would prefer to use fresh cherries with butter, sugar, and flour but my mom prefers the canned kind (not sure we're related).

I make most of my crusts with lard and only use butter if I'm out of it.  Unlike Thanksgiving, we were prepared at Christmas.  When you make pie crust, be absolutely certain you have a cold surface, cold lard (or butter), and cold flour.  If any of these ingredients are room temperature the crust will not turn out right.  I tried making a quiche on a card table once and the whole thing ended up rubbery rather than flakey…blah!  You also need super cold water, which you'll add by the tablespoon until the dough is just right.

I left my recipe at my parents house in Fulshear, so I'm going to have to share the ingredients etc. later, but for now, I'll show you what I did with the top crust.  I hate doing the same thing twice, even though I need to practice my lattice work, and so, as I usually do, I did a google search for different crust designs.  Here is the one that suited my fancy Christmas day:

See, how pretty.
You roll out the dough, cut long strips, and then twist each strip starting in the center and curling out until you reach the edge of the pie.  Obviously, whoever did the above crust has some kind of pie fairy who makes them brilliant at making pie crust because mine didn't really turn out quite the same...
Because it was Christmas, I didn't think leaves would be quite right so I used a Christmas tree instead.  I think the leaves looked better and next time I might try to find something like holly, but it still worked I think.  I totally ate the tree myself (yes I ate the regular flour pie and yes, I thoroughly regretted it…I believe the correct terminology is: severe intestinal disturbance :P).  I brushed the top with melted butter  which makes it turn golden brown and improves the flavor in my opinion.

Post oven
I need a lot more practice with my pie crusts but I think this one turned out fairly well!  Do you have a favorite Christmas dessert?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Night Foodie: Christmas Wreaths

Last year for office Christmas gifts I went fancy, cross stitching nearly a month in advance, putting together mason jars with individualized cross stitched designs for specific people…this year, well, Christmas sort of creeped up on me.  Sure, I got my family their gifts well in advance (thank you online shopping) but my office peeps…well, I sort of slacked a little.  Enter Christmas Cornflake Wreaths to the rescue!  I couldn't taste test them (believe it or not, even Cornflakes have gluten in them) so I hope they taste ok, but they sure were cute…even if they ended up looking like blobs rather than wreaths =P

Six cups of cornflakes.

1/3 cup of butter melted with 4 cups of mini marshmallows and 1 tsp of green food coloring

Mix with cornflakes

Attempt to make super cute wreaths (adorned with red hot hollies) but kind of sort of end up with blobs...

Merry Christmas!

The Discomfort and Dirt of the Season...

"That flight's been canceled."

Here it comes, what always happens when I start to stress out, the emotional reaction that makes me feel like a five year old not getting their way.  I've been fighting it for years, ever since being called a "cry baby" in pre-school, but I've never been able to get a handle on my overactive tear ducts.

"So…what can I do?"

What the heck could I do?  Three days in Memphis was great, but allergies are starting to take their toll and my yearly sinus infection seems imminent…my office is moving but because we haven't gotten the phones moved I might have to be at the old building the next day…if I can't make it there someone else will have to go sit alone and redirect phone calls…I'm cold, tired, and just want to be home…

This isn't fair!  

Flights are delayed, canceled, full all because of a fire at the Houston airport.  Come on, people, get it together!  Oddly enough when I had left the Houston airport Thursday night a fire had gone off for a good five minutes with everyone staring at each other, giggling nervously, but refusing to move towards the fire exits.  I stand in the tiny Memphis airport wondering if the two events are related and if so, why they couldn't figure all this out before I had to get on a flight to Houston.  Clearly my schedule is the most important.

"Um, go ahead and sit down and I'll try and squeeze you on this flight, it's full but there's always a chance."

I trudge back with the slightest glimmer of hope, and try to remind myself of the blessings God had already given me that weekend.  Friday morning I'd woken up unable to find my wallet.  Being the genius that I am, I had been keeping my social in one of the pockets, so I knew I was in big trouble.  I had no money, no license, nothing, but had managed to keep mostly calm and trust that God would take care of it.  Sunday afternoon I went to check the pockets of my suitcase one last time…just to see…you never know…Sure enough I found my wallet, and even though my credit and debit card were now basically worthless, my driver's license and social were safe.  It felt like a miracle because I swear I checked that pocket 98 times…yet there it was.  If God could return my wallet to me, getting to Houston surely wasn't a problem…

Still, panic threatened, along with the "me-monster" that didn't want to sleep another night in somebody else's bed.

"Ticket please."

My new flight left at the exact same time as my original one and I arrived in Houston at the exact same time I was supposed to.  Crazy grace.  God would have been more than justified if I hadn't been able to get home when I wanted to, but He mercifully got me home right on schedule.

His Son's entrance into the world wasn't quite as smooth…

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all [a]the inhabited earth. [b]This was the first census taken while [c]Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a [d]manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  (Luke 2:1-7)

I was "threatened" with not being able to sleep in my own bed...Jesus left paradise to come into this world in a mangera slobbery haystack were barn animals eat.

I demanded things to go my wayMary gave birth on the floor of a stable.  

I think Jesus' birth characterizes His time here on earth; He deserved glory and honor, the sit with kings and rulers and principalities, to be wrapped in royal garments rather than swaddling clothes…yet he chose to live in poverty and to die as if a criminal…all for the sake of His kingdom, of which we are allowed to be a part.

I'm hoping to celebrate this Christmas with this at the center of my mind, that this time is not about comfort and warm fuzzies but about the fulfillment of a promise, the advancement of the Kingdom, and that all this comes amidst the discomfort and dirt of this life.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Through the Wilderness

I have not arrived.

The voices that teased me in college for choosing a major I liked (English) seem to have been proven right.  Though I'm not asking "do you want fries with that" as many suggested I might be, I am answering a phone rather than counseling someone who is hurting, writing orientation letters instead of publishing books and articles, and scanning paperwork rather than signing autographs.  

I am well behind most of my friends who are beginning on their second kids with their husbands and find myself asking every so often if there is something wrong with me.  One of my favorite jokes is that at this point it will take a miracle tantamount to the virgin birth to get me married as the task seems all but insurmountable due to my sinful idealism and general fear of that sort of relationship.

Most of my friends have moved away or are getting ready to move away to ridiculous places like Midland.

I have been turned down for my dream job too many times to count.

I have sins that I just can't seem to master.

This is certainly not my best life now.

I am in the wilderness, or at least that's what it feels like, and sometimes this makes me question my salvation.  Surely if I was a child of God things would be going better.  Surely I would be much holier by now and have taken my place among the ranks of my supermom friends.  Surely the drab day to day trudge isn't the sort of trouble Jesus promised in John 16:33…it can't be, it's not dramatic enough!  Surely the trouble He was talking about was limited to outright persecution, torture, death for the sake of the kingdom.  Surely.

I wonder if the Israelites ever had thoughts such as this when God was leading them through the wilderness; if they asked themselves, each other, Moses why the Lord had rescued them just to hike around "through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of deep darkness, through a land that no one crossed and where no man dwelt" (Jeremiah 2:6).  Their trek could not have been exciting in the day to day, though it certainly must have been uncomfortable.  Sand in the morning, sand in the afternoon, sand in the evening…no apparent source of water, no civilization, blistering sun…Yet they had the promise to look forward to, the guarantee of the God of their forefather Abraham to guide them, and He had proved Himself faithful time and again.

Reading Jeremiah 2 this evening made me check my prosperity gospel thinking.  Like Israel we - the Church - have been rescued from slavery; like Israel we look forward to the promised land, the hope of things to come; and like Israel we are still being lead through the wilderness by our good and faithful Shepherd.  To assume things would be comfortable, easy, even exciting is to misunderstand how God works.  Sometimes it's the constant sand that buffs away that which sin has left behind.  I think following in faith can sometimes be the hardest when things are just plain bland and disappointing, so I'm thankful for the reminders in scripture that God walked with His people through a dry and dusty place.  

Do you ever find yourself in the midst of the wilderness?  Let us encourage each other on this journey, for God gave us the body for a reason.    

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Eating Crow

"I'm so sorry for what I said, I didn'
t realize it was you on the phone."

My hands shake I'm so angry.  What kind of apology is that?  I remember our conversation from earlier:

"May I ask who's calling and what this call is in regard to."

"This is_and I want talk to _ as if it's any of your G*d d*mn business."

I was too baffled to respond, utterly shocked by the extremity of her response, the uncalled for anger.

"I'm sorry?"

She repeats herself, only this time without the profanities.  I transfer her so I don't say anything I will regret later, but my mind is racing along with my heart.  How dare she speak that way to me, to anybody?!  Of course it's my business, this is a business and I'm the receptionist.  Even if I wasn't I would want to know who the caller was.  I'm shaking so badly I have to get up and walk around.  Furious energy to burn off.

Back in the present I'm praying like crazy, angry with myself that my pride has pushed me into reacting this way.

"Thank you for your apology, but I have to ask those kinds of questions because we get weird sales calls all the time…we all have to ask those questions because otherwise people won't take the call."

"I'm so sorry…"

Sure you are…

Her apology feels hallow, ridiculous.  She's only apologizing because she knows who I am, she only feels guilty because we have some semblance of a relationship, not because what she did was ridiculous, irrational, wrong.  I want justice on her, I want to return the venom she spewed at me, I want her never to do that to anyone again!

My self-righteous anger doesn't last long; God doesn't allow it to as He reminds me of rush hour traffic, of shaking my *ahem* fist at other drivers, of the fact that any one of them could be someone I know, and that in those moments of frustration I do exactly what the woman on the other line has done; murdered someone with words, with gestures, with my thoughts.

I'm still angry, and I don't think entirely unjustified, but I'm also humbled.  I'm reminded that I am in much need of mercy as anyone else, as lesson I must clearly learn often.  I've no way to combat the emotions that fuel my actions, I will just have to pray constantly, fall at the feet of my Savior, and remember my own sin when I am wronged.  That is the only way I can show any grace or mercy to anyone, that is the only way I can remain calm and cling to peace in the storm.  The war between myself and the Lord is over, and He has come to make straight that which we have made crooked.

Emmanuel God with us.

Isaiah 9:6

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will [i]rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Night Foodie: Thanksgiving Style

This was my first Thanksgiving to go gluten free and at first I was a little disappointed.  Surely this meant no pie, no dressing, two of my favorite things!  But as I have discovered lately, there are so many ways around gluten that it is glorious!  Awareness is a beautiful thing.  So this year, I got a little creative.

First up, plantain dressing:
Plantain Bread - 1 plantain, two eggs, 1 tbs of oil.  Blend until smooth.  350 for 15-18 minutes.  Delicious.

Cut into cubes and toast.
Saute onions and celery. 
Mix together with chicken broth and season with poultry seasoning, thyme, and rosemary in a crockpot and simmer on low for an hour.  Then, pop back in the oven on 350 for half an hour and eat warm.  Survey says?  Delicious!  I should not have halved the recipe I don't think, but it was still delicious and I definitely plan on making the bread just to eat on a daily basis.  So stinkin' easy and yummy!

Next up, brown rice apple pie:

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour/1 stick of butter (chilled in the freezer for half an hour)/tsp salt/tsp sugar/6-8 tbs of ice cold water.  

8 cups of chopped apples/1tbs cinnamon/1tbs nutmeg/pinch of salt/more brown rice flour...

Attempt lattice…one day you will perfect this!  400 for 40 minutes with aluminum foil, then fifteen more uncovered.  Serve hot!
My sweet friend Sharon Peterson picked up some gluten free pie crusts for me a few weeks ago and I had fully intended on using those.  Tuesday morning I remembered everything…but the pie crusts :(  Still, this was good practice in pie making and as I fully intend on becoming an expert pie maker (complete with fifties style dress and pearls) this was good practice.

Survey says: delicious!  I was scared the dough would end up very dry and crumbly but it was so stink in' good!  This is a recipe I will stick with.

And now, for pictures of fellowship!  How thankful I am to be part of the body of Christ.

Alison making cranberry deliciousness!  Looking amazing even after being up all night with a coughing baby.

Momma pealing po-ta-toes.

Me, making the second pie for everybody else.  This one had lard and regular flour.

Thomas and Jimmy.  My movie buddy is back!  For a while :(

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Night Foodie: Plantain Chips

Aside from my new obsession with spaghetti squash, I've also renewed my love for plantain chips.  In Peru, you could buy bags of thinly sliced plantain chips for one sol (about a third of a dollar), and fried plantains are a common ingredient in all jungle food.  My first experience with jungle food was in the market in the jungle my second week in the country.  We went nearly every morning for breakfast and coffee (amazing coffee!)  At first, the only thing I would try were the bananas with either fresh cheese or mani (natural peanut butter), they seemed the safest and least likely to make me sick (I'd heard horror stories about parasites and was pretty nervous upon arrival), and so when the others told me to try a Peruvian dish called tacacho I swore I never would.  Tacacho is fried plantains that have been ground with pig fat and bacon and served with lime soaked purple onions, ahi (a super spicy and delicious spice), and mayonnaise (sounds odd, but Peru knows how to do mayo like nobody else).
It took some convincing, but eventually I caved.  The dish is delicious, if not a little odd, and I was so glad my friends made me do it.  In the future, I plan to try this recipe from the Peruvian cook book I brought back, but this week I kept it simple with plantain chips.

These are fairly easy to cook and the hardest part is actually getting them out of their skins.  My suggestion is to get them somewhat yellow, too green and they'll basically require you to skin them with a knife.  Either way, plantains are much harder than regular bananas and you will need a knife to get them open.  Cut off the ends and then use the tip of the knife to make slits on each side of the fruit…vegetable…eh, it's up for debate.  Once this is done, you should be able to peal it with some amount of ease.  Cut into fairly thin slices depending on how crispy you want them.  The thicker they are, the softer they tend to be.  However, you don't want them too thin, otherwise they will burn.  

Heat your oil in your pan on medium high or so (I used olive oil) and carefully place the chips in until they are mostly submerged.  I don't have a specific time frame for how long, just keep an eye on them and flip with a fork.  I found using a spatula did not work so well.  Drain on paper towels and season with salt.  Then, enjoy!  Just be careful, it's easy to get burned and easier still to become somewhat obsessed.  Do you have any international dishes that you could make yourself sick on?

Made for Another World

I’m tired.  For an insomniac that is not entirely unusual.  Since the day I was born sleep has been an often illusive friend, coming and going with no real sense of regularity, and always desiring to tempt at unconventional times.  Sleep beckons at 2 PM rather than 2AM, my eyes growing heavy in the afternoon and wide open as darkness falls.  Even when I find available time for a nap and sleep comes at the appropriate hour, I always feel as if I need more.

I’m hungry.  Being a foodie I’m always looking for new recipes, new challenges and experiments.  If you know me at all, you are fully aware of my current Pintrest obsession.  (It’s a problem…maybe)  Yet food never really satisfies.  Though I often stumble upon amazing concoctions (even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then as my dad says) it’s never quite as good as it could be (I’m like a Hobbit, Second Breakfast is a daily occurrence).

I’m busy.  As an extrovert, I crave company and love being social.  A day without people would not be a good day in my book.  Last year I got two strains of the flu and was more or less quarantined at home in Fulshear at my parent’s house.  They had good friends over to visit and I couldn’t go down to see them Two of them came up and risked  hugs anyway, something I very much appreciated, but I couldn’t fellowship with them, couldn’t join the conversation, could only hear their enjoyment of one another’s company from afar.  It was miserable.  Yet, I find even my greatest friendships can often fall short.  Among others I still sometimes feel lonely, on the outside, and as usual, not quite satisfied.

I love my local church, playing in the band, enjoying my small group, but it has it’s flaws (if I were to find a perfect church my very presence would ruin it by my sin).

I love my city, but the driver’s are nuts.

I’m thankful for my job but don’t always enjoy it.

I love my family but sometimes they drive me crazy.

This, my friends, is a blessing.  The things of this world always leave me wanting more, wanting better.  I’m often disappointed, often let down, by my own failures, the failures of others, and the failure of this world in general to fill up the empty space in my chest.  Why is this a blessing?  Why do I think the slight suffocation of disillusionment is the most glorious feeling I can experience?  Because like the pain of an injury, this reveals to me a problem, a need, a reality that is vital for me to know.

There is a disease called congenital analgesia.  People suffering from this cannot feel physical pain at all.  While some of us may often wish this amidst an injury, this disease is incredibly dangerous.  Why?  Because pain reveals to us that something is wrong, that we may need to seek help.  

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

The deprivation and pain of this life, the hole in the center of our very being serves as a warning to us, a signal that this world will never satisfy.  As Pascal put it, “There is a god-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, and only God can fill it.”  


And yet we as believers, filled with the Holy Spirit of God, continue to feel deprivation, lack, tragedy.  We wonder why.  I wonder why.  I wrestle with guilt.  I should be joyful, feel fulfilled, and happy all the time!  I question God, question my own salvation, question what I know to be true.  

But then I’m reminded; I am not yet in glory.  It’s the tension of the already but not yet.  I have been made alive, yet I continue to struggle with the after effects of sin, I have been adopted, yet sometimes I act like an orphan.  

“And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”  Romans 8:23

Still, the continued dissatisfaction, I believe, is also a blessing.  For amidst joy we do not cling to prayer as much, we do not remember our own frailty, we worship the world and our friends and family.  We continue to long because, even though we have been brought from death to life, we are not yet fully redeemed.  

So how do we live in the longing?  I think Packer said it best: "Think against your feelings; argue yourself out of the gloom they have spread; unmask the unbelief they have nourished; take yourself in hand, talk to yourself, make yourself look up from your problems to the God of the gospel; let evangelical thinking correct emotional thinking."  Knowing God

Dear friends, speak truth to your feelings, and pray with me that when we long, we will realize it is a longing to be with our Heavenly Father.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday Night Foodie - Saturday

I've been on a huge spaghetti squash kick lately.  Like the Miracle Noodles, they tend to take on the flavor of whatever it is your cooking, so you can get really creative with sauces.  Add to that the slightly crunchy texture and it's a nice little substitute for pasta.  This week, I tried Baked Margherita Spaghetti Sauce.
Slice squash in half and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake at 400 for thirty minutes.  

Use a fork to scrape the insides, leaving it in the skin.  Cover with 1/4 cup of mozzarella (I so used more than this because I have a cheese problem), sliced tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes), and fresh basil.

Set oven on broil and heat for 3-4 minutes.

Enjoy!  I meant to save one of the halts, but ended up eating the whole thing.  
 I absolutely loved this recipe and will likely do it again.  It might be good as a side with chicken, but it was more than filling enough and while my taste buds appreciated multiple servings my stomach did not!  Pintrest success!

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 45 minutes / Servings: 2


  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large Roma tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. each salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a large knife or a cleaver, slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise down the middle.  Use a spoon to remove the seeds and center strings.
  3. Drizzle the two halves with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Place the squash, open side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven, check to see if the squash is soft and easily comes up with a fork into a spaghetti like texture.  If it's too hard to remove, cook for another 10 minutes.   Remove from the oven, scrape and fluff the stringy squash with a fork.  Leave the squash in the skin.
  5. Turn the oven up to broil. Add the tomatoes and fresh basil into the squash, stir and top with the mozzarella cheese.  Place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving the squash.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Where We Began

Genesis 1:27

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

People suck, but I can't forget where we began.  

Like a mirror now ruined by dust and time, we once reflected our Creator.  He could see His face in us, clear and plain as day, unwrapped, undistorted, unmatched to anything we could possibly imagine.  What did that look like?  Humanity unmarred by the void sin creates, humanity in its birth, its perfection, humanity in unhindered relationship with the God of the Universe, holy and happy?  It's an image even my wild imagination can't wrap itself around, an image I'm not sure I could look upon in my current state of unholiness and sin.  

To my very core I am dust, ashes, a worm and not a man (Psalm 22:6), but that is not how God created us.  In His graciousness, and without any need on His part, He formed humanity in wholeness, holiness.  He brought us into being because He is, by nature, creator, He brought us into being because He is, by nature, relational, He brought us into being knowing exactly what it would cost Him; the greatest suffering imaginable.

Sometimes I struggle with the idea of sin.  I see death and destruction in the news, hear cruel words out of the mouths of my coworkers, know the evil thoughts of my own heart and I wonder, 'How could a loving and sovereign God allow it to happen?'  It's a question everyone asks, a challenge from those who deny any sort of intelligent design much less a creator, and in my weak faith, this question often shakes me.  Yet I am reminded, so graciously by this holy Creator, of the fact that no matter how sin came into existence at all, He chose to create us knowing just what it would cost Him.

Even those condemned to hell will never know what Christ suffered on the cross, for He knew perfect fellowship with the Father, He knew no sin, and yet took the justice we rebels deserved (2 Corinthians 5:21).  God did not simply wave away our sin like a fog to dissipate in the air, He poured out justice upon it, upon His Son, and gave us a righteousness that is not our own…

He is pulling us back to where we began.  

The dust and grime are begin scrubbed away and it hurts sometimes but one day we will again perfectly reflect our Creator, serving our true purpose yet again…

So I'm thankful to be made aware of my sin, of the grime, of the dirt, because it also reminds me that it no longer defines me, and that one day I will be what God has declared of me: His righteousness. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Friday Night Foodie…or, You know, Saturday

Recently, my doctor took me off of gluten.  I've always had stomach issues, but I never thought it might be associated with an intolerance.  Coffee, wine, tomatoes, sure, but flour?  Thankfully, most restaurants and grocery stores carry gluten free options, and so long as you stick mainly to fresh produce you're fairly safe.  Add to that my love for trying new foods (spaghetti squash) and it really hasn't been so bad.  

And then there is my sweet friend Sharon.  This lovely lady is not only the queen of Craig's List, but sells her cookies to help pay for her kids ABA therapy, and found me Miracle Noodles on Amazon.  

Made from Shirataki Konjac, an Asian plant root, Miracle Noodle is carb free, gluten free, and soy free and, even better, zero calories.  You can buy a box of six on Amazon for around $13.  It comes in packets filled with water and sort of looks, well, like little white worms.  After you drain and rinse them in a colander, you boil them for 3-4 minutes like you would any other pasta. 

 Boil in salted water for 2-4 minutes.
Drain again.

Sautee on medium heat to remove excess water.  I added chicken sausage as well for some protein. 

Add your sauce: I used vodka sauce and added  fresh basil.

I also had a goat cheese, tomato, and basil salad.  Verdict?  Kind of an odd texture, but still pretty good!  Might take some getting used to, but I'll definitely keep using it.  

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

People Suck

Warning: there is some language in this post.  I'm using it to prove a point, but if it offends you I encourage you not to read on.

People suck.

Sound harsh?  I know with absolute certainty that my parents are cringing if they read the previous line, but as it is a harsh word I find it appropriate.

People suck.

I suck.

Paul used similarly harsh diction in Philippians 3:8 when he described his own works: rubbish, filth, shit.

I on the one hand I apologize for the profanity, on the other I want to honor the extremity of the word.  People are ugly, fitly, disgusting.  They speak beautiful word with their lips yet hate you; they speak harsh words and murder you; they manipulate, fail to understand, put themselves first.  They are no different than I am.  I murder with a glance, I give not grace with my words, I destroy that which God created with a syllable because I believe myself to be the highest authority.

I am shit.

Again I apologize.

Yet I don't because it's what I am.

The older I get the more I realize just how deeply imbedded sin is within me.  To my very core I (and everyone around me) am utterly selfish.  I treat others well because it will make them like me, I do good for the praise, I strive for godliness because it just might attract a man worthy of my time, because I am the guiding line for what is good and holy and right and obviously anyone would be lucky to have me on their side; I am a worm and not a man (Psalm 22:6)!  Yet I am not despised because, like those on Capitol Hill, I pour layer upon layer of lies to invent myself and make you see me a certain way.

I am often a white washed cup (Matthew 23:27), clean on the outside but leaning toward the ways of death on the outside.

This realization is the only way I can love others.  Why?  Because people (me included) suck.  We treat one another as peasants, believing ourselves always to be justified in our actions, always to be the heroes, the protagonists of the story, when, in reality, we are the supporting actors, the extras, the one our glorious LORD has allowed to be part of the story.

If I focus on others I will absolutely despair because they are like me; riddled with sin.  And yet, if I focus on the Creator of this around me, of the One Who redeemed me from the pit, that is when I can love others fully.

And why is that?

Because "we love, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

If this is true then even our most vile offender can be loved.

If this is true we are merely offenders choosing to love other offenders.

If this is true, we can let go of vengeance and trust the God of justice.

If this is true, we can love each other even when we suck.

LORD, soften my hardened heart to fellow sinners.  May the imputed righteousness of Christ bring forth an abundance of love and mercy towards others, no matter how they wrong me.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Friday Night Foodie

I'm starting a new section of my blog called "Friday Night Foodie" in which I attempt recipes mostly gotten off Pintrest and share them with you.  I'll link up to the site with instructions and let you know how it turned out for me.  This week I tried jerk chicken... did not turn out as well as I'd hoped...
Garlic, onion, ginger, thyme, olive oil, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt honey, red wine vinegar, and lime juice...


Marinate skin on chicken for 24 hours - it smelled glorious!

375 for 45 minutes...I don't think I cooked it long enough...

I'm not totally sure what I did wrong, but it wasn't very good.  The sauce was grainy and did not stick to the skin.  Probably a fail on my part.  It was the first time I'd cooked with skin on chicken...anybody got any tips?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Night Foodie

On the menu for tonight: beef, bacon, and plantain casserole.

First, fry bacon...bacon is always good...when in doubt, add bacon. 
Sautee ground turkey in bacon grease with garlic and plantains...

Eat my friends.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why Youth Ministry

I'm a church rat.

For those of you who do not speak "Christianese" this means I was brought up in the church.  From the time I was a child my parents taught me about the Lord, about sin, and about Jesus.  I never knew a day where I did not know that my so-called "good works" were laced with bad motives and pride and that my only way for a relationship with a holy God and with His body was the sacrifice of His Son.  Peace preached, spiritual family...yet for a long time I felt very alone.

Admittedly, I'm an odd ball.  If you're friends with me in real life, on Facebook or Pintrest, or if you read this blog you know that all too well.  Another memory from childhood is my overactive imagination; the stories ebbed and flowed in my mind, taking me into my own little world, but often coming out for a peak, my characters tripping into real life...and soon the teasing started.  Inevitably I began to prefer my imaginary world to reality.  I didn't want to face the rejection, rejection I didn't understand, rejection from my peer group in and outside of the church.

Then I entered Junior High, arguably the most awkward and painful time in our existence (ok, slightly overdramatic, but then I am talking about the beginning of puberty, so it seemed appropriate).  The arms of my youth group pulled me in, accepting me, challenging me, teaching me.  I was confronted with sin, included in group activities, considered a friend, and the imaginary world began to look a little less dreamy.  I was still me, oddness and all, but for the first time my peer group didn't seem so scary.  Moreover, through the discipleship of the staff I wrestled with difficult questions about my faith, realizing quickly that I believed what my parents had taught me all those years, owning my faith.

For this reason I believe youth ministry is a vital one.  Not that youth, or any Ecclesiastes 3:1).  
age group, should be separate from the rest of the body, but that they, like every age group, have distinctive needs.  This, of course, can be done wrong; as a culture there is nowhere near enough intergenerationality (spell check is telling me that's not a word, I choose to ignore it), but there is a time and a place for everything (

So what is your opinion on youth ministry?  Objections?  Rebuttals?  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Night Foodie

Creamy Zucchini Mushroom Soup...


Chicken Stock


Final product!  

Collateral Damage...
Final verdict?  Delicious!