Thursday, July 29, 2010

Love God Live Free

Today I changed the title of my blog. The other day Beth and I were talking about our blogs, and she informed me that this is really my blog. Yes, Matt is a part of it, but clearly it's pretty much my thoughts about our life. Anyway, in that conversation I said I was thinking about retitling my blog, but I didn't know what. Beth said it would come to me. Then it did.

Going through emails today, I noticed that the Daily Reading emails I receive from Ransomed Heart all say "Love God Live Free" at the top. I noticed this as I clicked the "Back to Messages" button and it flashed from my view. I quickly clicked the back button to see if I'd read it right. That was it.

Love God Live Free is exactly it. It's the top of peak, the pinnacle from which I slip down the mountainside and climb my way back up over and over again. This is the point...of it all. Right? I don't do this perfectly, I don't even do it well, but it makes me come alive when I catch it for even a moment. Maybe slapping this mantra on the top of my blog page will keep me from slipping down so often or quickly. What are your thoughts on this? Good or bad or otherwise?

A better plan

Matt's Assignment Night in May 2007.

There are two major conflicts inside the story in my head these days; just like any good sitcom, right? One is the situation with my job. (What happened? Oh, the injustice! Certainly God has my back in this as always.) Two is Matt's "upcoming" assignment. It's been upcoming for about three months already, but as far as we're concerned it might as well have been "upcoming" for three years already. (And the story in my head wonders will there be enough fighters? What if he gets a UAV? When in the world will we hear anything?)

The first story God and I have mostly tackled into understanding, except for every so often when Satan tries to plant a negative thought about it in me. We investigate those as they come. There has been a lot of healing in this place, although the scab hasn't gone away yet.

The second story is something I think about every day. Matt tries not to think about it at all. When he got FAIPed it was the last thing we were wanting. (I had apparently not even really considered it and therefore sobbed through most his initial assignment process. I think this time I'll be able to go with the flow at least a little better.)

Anyway, as we wait on the assignment and the start of a jobless school year approaches, I am deeply comforted by my reading today. I have been reading Beth Moore's David: 90 Days with a Heart Like His.

Today's devotional begins with reading 1 Samuel: 8: 1-22. The Scripture is about the end of Samuel's leadership, when the Israelites are demanding he appoint a king as his successor. The problem is, the Israelites have it all wrong. They want a king because all the other countries have kings. They want a king so they can be cool, get what they want, be up with the times. Basically, because they think it will be all good news for them.

Samuel is devastated. He loved and sacrificed his whole life for these people who are turning on him. He goes to God for advice: (Excerpts from Beth's writing, not Scripture.)

"Then, in a move that seemed to justify and reward their misplaced values and short-sightedness, the Lord told him to grant their request because they had not rejected Samuel as judge; they had rejected God as king. As always, Samuel obeyed."

God is giving them their king, but not without first having Samuel tell them all the turmoil this will cost them:

"Still, he told the people of the taxes they would pay, the freedoms they would lose, and ultimately how their sons and daughters would be reduced to virtual slavery by the fulfillment of their request. No matter how Samuel reasoned, however, the people wanted a king. They wanted a king for all the wrong reasons. Ultimately, they wanted a king because the other nations had them.

We can see so many truths in the situation. One lesson speaks of patience. God had already planned a king for the people. Their lack of patience was to cost them dearly. If they had waited for the Lord's choice instead of demanding their way, how different might the story have been?

Another lesson from the story deals with rejection. None of us enjoys rejection, but when we are serving Christ, any rejection falls to His broad shoulders rather than our narrow ones. The next time you feel rejection's sting, remember God's words to Samuel: 'It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me' (v. 7).

Samuel warned the Israelites about what they were getting into. Often when God does not readily give us what we want, it is because He knows wat our desire would cost us. Faith sometimes means forgoing our desires because we trust Christ to have a better plan for our lives."

Patience and rejection, rejection and patience. Those are -more precisely- the storylines I described above. I'm not exactly sure what's what in this. We needed this lesson just as much at the beginning of these situations as we need it now at the end. We demanded of God then just as we have now. And patience and rejection have flowed through these stories side by side like the Tigris and Euphrates.

All I know is today I want to choose patience so that God's purposes may be fulfilled instead of my own. How much more beautiful that picture will be! I'm so grateful he knows better than I do.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5: 3-5

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recipes: dinner #1

We made this recipe while at Beth's in June. It is from Cooking Light magazine. We used chicken in addition to the shrimp, but it didn't take the marinade quite as well and turned out a little dry. Ours was a bit overdone, too, but the shrimp were still very juicy.

Lemongrass and garlic shrimp

This is our version on the top and Cooking Light's version on the bottom.

1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 fresh lemongrass stalk, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, grated
36 jump shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 2 pounds)

1. Combine sugar, canola oil, fish sauce, chopped lemongrass, and grated garlic in a food processor or mini chopper; process until the lemongrass is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top plastic bag. Add shrimp; seal and marinate in refrigerator 45 minutes.

2. Prepare grill to high heat.

3. Remove shrimp from bag; discard marinade. Thread 6 shrimp onto each of 6 (12-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill rack; grill 2 minutes on each side or until done.

We served this recipe with sugar snap peas sauteed with garlic salt and olive oil and also ciabatta bread with butter.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A hole in the water

Sunday was one of those days when you feel like it would have been better to just stay in bed. A day when you have the best of outlooks, and then your outlook gets dashed by one wrong turn after another.

My original idea was to unload on you all the downs of our day Sunday, which would be depressing. What I'm sharing with you instead is the reasons why my husband is a wise man, as proven by his wise decisions on Sunday while we attempted to have a day at the lake out on the boat.

1. Matt said we should stay here and go to the lake in town instead of two hours away in Oklahoma like I wanted to.

2. Matt said, let's just go for the day instead of spending the night camping (my idea) in this insane heat.

3. When the boat battery was dead, Matt said let's test and charge this one if we can instead of just buying a new one just to be safe/because you don't want to risk failure.

4. Matt followed me out of the Wal-Mart when I started crying because no one would offer us anything resembling customer service.

5. Matt decided to choose a better establishment (Auto Zone) to get the job done right, even though it was a touch more expensive.

6. Matt tested the battery again in the boat in the parking lot of Auto Zone before leaving the store.

7. Matt persevered with starting the winterized boat motor without becoming angry or irate.

8. Matt decided to stay with the boat and let his wife drive the trailer ashore because he was sure she knew was she was doing.

9. Matt firmly told his wife to get out of the car and hold the boat when she somehow forgot that pulling in the boat trailer required starting the engine of her manual vehicle and she began to scream as the vehicle rolled deeper into the water.

10. When the trailer was ashore, but the boat wouldn't start again, Matt told his wife to hold the boat this time while he put the trailer in the water.

11. When both the boat and trailer were firmly on land, Matt rechecked the battery instead of just driving home angry and confused like his wife might have done.

12. When it was discovered that the battery's wingnut had gotten loose somewhere in all that activity and had condensation on it, Matt calmly solved the problem and successfully tried the boat in the water for the third time. This time the motor worked perfectly. He took the trailer ashore himself and had Brooke pick him up near the ramp as to their usual arrangement.

13. When the boat finally worked, Matt drove it near and upwind of the boat ramp just in case the battery died again or they incurred some other problem. Brooke would have gone cruising clear across the lake and probably ended up having to get the paddle out again.

Here's us trying to enjoy finally being out on the water after about 6 hours of everything else.

14. Matt suggested we order pizza for dinner when we finally the boat put away Sunday night instead of cooking what I had originally planned.

Sunday was one of those days. I'm sure glad I have a wise husband to join me in this adventure we call life. I don't know where I'd be without him.
As for the "A hole in the water" title, that's what Matt's Dad calls a boat: a hole in the water that you sink money into. Most of the time that's pretty true, especially considering we just had a few pieces of the seating reupholstered and are probably going to have to buy a new window soon. Ironically, all we paid for Sunday was gas to make all those runs to and from the lake.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recipes: lunch or snack

The new pb & j

1-2 slices of bread (1 for a snack, 2 for a lunch)
1-2 tablespoons honey roasted peanut butter (this is awesome freshly ground from a natural foods store, but the Peter Pan variety is also quite delicious)
A handful of blueberries

Spread peanut butter on bread. Pour and place blueberries evenly over the peanut butter. Either fold in half for small version or cover with another slice of bread for large version. Enjoy!

Matt came up with this while at S.O.S. in Alabama. It's good and simple. We love it:)

Turkey tomato open-face sandwich

1 slice of bread
1 teaspoon honey mustard
3 ounces shaved deli turkey breast
1 small tomato, sliced
1 slice provolone cheese (or your preferance)

Put bread on microwave safe plate and pile high with remaining ingredients in order listed. Microwave about 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

I was inspired by Beth's bagel at Einstein Bros. that had turkey, tomato, and cheddar on it so I came up with this one to use up a few things in the frig. It was nice and light; just right.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Recipes: breakfast

I recently learned how to make omelets. I mean really make omelets. I kind of knew how to make them before, but the flipping/folding part was always trial and error; oh, as well as the "I hope it's cooked through" part. Those days are long gone.

I discovered the trick in my cookbook (Food to Live By is the name of it). After it all turned out so well, I said to Matt, "How come I never looked this up in the cookbook before?" It seemed such an obvious place to look! I would look there to make anything else, why not omelets?

Okay, so if you're like me and don't know the trick already, here it is, straight from my cookbook:

(Start by making your egg mixture the way you like. For mine, I use one egg and one egg white plus a little salt and pepper. Whisk ingredients to combine.)

1. Melt the butter in a small (7 inch), nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the egg mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the eggs begin to set up along the bottom of the pan. Using a spatula, push the cooked egg gently into the center of the skillet, at the same time tilting the skillet so that any runny, unset egg mixture rolls onto the hot surface. Do this once or twice until most of the egg has set, 2 to 4 minutes.

2. Spoon the filling over half of the omelet. If the eggs are too soft for your taste, turn off the heat and cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil and let them sit for 2 minutes.

3. When the eggs are cooked to your liking, run a spatula around the edge of the omelet to release it from the pan. Place the skillet at an angle against the edge of the serving plate and carefully slide the filled half of the omelet onto the plate. Using the pan to help you, fold the remaining half of the omelet over the filling. Serve immediately.

For the omelet filling in the above picture, I melted a dab of butter, then added baby spinach, some diced tomato and onion, a bit of minced garlic, and cooked for about five minutes or until the egg mixture was ready. Once the filling was on the omelet, I added about a tablespoon of shredded parmesan cheese.

This was delicious! Even Matt enjoyed it (by the way, that is a marvel because there is no meat in this recipe)!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Colorado vacation, the end

It's time to catch up in blogland, so here I am. Here's one last post about Colorado (except I just remembered one more recipe we made that I'll have to share in my upcoming recipe posts...I have 7 recipes to share!).

I had a great time visiting Beth and her clan. The best thing about visiting Beth is that you get to experience her life. There's always so much going on with her over in C-Springs, and it's really fun to be a part of it all. We did everything from the normal everday stuff like grocery shopping and getting gas to new and exciting things like mini courses in veterinary medicine (okay, maybe Beth's the only one who'll think that's funny...). Mostly we talked and ate. That's what we do, and often we do them at the same time. It's nice to be in the same place and get to do them together:)

With that, here's a hodge podge of left-over (haha, 'cause we ate a lot...) pictures from my trip.

We had a girls' night out at P.F. Chang's, one of our favorite places. Here are Becca and Beth, two of my favorite gals.

And here's B and B, that's Big B for Beth and Lil' B for Brooke.

Me and Becca. Our meal was so delicious. All together we shared two appetizers, two entrees, two desserts, and six drinks. It was wonderful!

On another night we made brownies. Here's Becca enjoying the bowl.

We spent some time and money over in the Briargate shops. I thought this was a nice sunny view of them.

While the rest of us relaxed, Beth worked to get ready for her hospitality manager job at this year's LIFE conference in Kentucky.

Becca had to work a bit, glad I could be there to interrupt their normal routine:)

Okay, that was the randomness of Colorado. I have a couple pics of our time in Alabama. Then, next up is more recipes than I originally thought. It turns out I actually have 10! Did I mention I've been cooking a lot since we got back.
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