Monday, April 30, 2012

Rethink Eggs Benedict

Every muscle seems to be pulling my spine in the wrong direction. I thought I'd fix it today with some yoga. Looked up the best poses for a sore back and got to work.

I must have done something wrong. My hip is no longer working. Seriously, I'm limping like Jacob, but without the cool angel-wrestling story. What have I done? Last time I try to use a healthy fix for my back. Next time, I'll let my liver do the workout with a handful of advil.

Enough griping. This recipe has nothing to do with yoga or sore backs or wrenched hips. It's just tasty and in season, and I've been meaning to share it with you for weeks.

Part of my 'brinner' kick. Or maybe this one works better for a brunch. Do people brunch any more? There's an awesome restaurant in downtown Knoxville that serves an omelette bar for brunch. It's super trendy, so I guess some super trendy Knoxvillians still brunch.

For the rest of us who can't buzz down to Market Square, my recipe for Warm Asparagus and Egg Sandwich. BTW~ DH said nothing during this meal. He didn't pause long enough to comment!

Warm Asparagus Salad

1 lb asparagus, shaved
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t olive oil
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t dried lemongrass {could substitute 1 T lemon juice and reduce by 1/2}
salt to taste
Grated asiago cheese, to taste {could substitute parmesan}

{To shave the asparagus, I cut off the heads, then use a potato peeler on the main stalk. If presentation doesn't matter, you could grate it in the food processor.}
Heat oil in deep pan until smoking. Add crushed red pepper. Heat until flakes hop in pan. Add garlic and saute gently for 1 minute. Add asparagus and lemongrass and saute until slightly wilted, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Salt to taste. Top with cheese.

Serve over whole grain toast and fried eggs. Magnificent!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hoping to Improve {please help!}

I want to take a moment to double check that I am meeting your reading needs. Please take a moment to complete this simple poll to let me know which direction to take the blog. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sweet Potato Skillet Fries

Out in the warm sun, I planted potatoes today, buried them under soil and manure. Growing potatoes is new to me, a gardening adventure. This year's garden is my biggest yet, with plans for four season planting. It's my pet project right now.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this: For my drive to Knoxville, I stayed awake by listening to my kindle {always a treat} read World War Z by Max Brooks. Yep - an apocalyptic zombie novel. Not what I would usually pick up, but a trusted friend lent a copy to me. Here's what I learned: if zombies ever do attack, the people who survive best are the ones who can grow their own food. Must learn how to garden. Foraging is even better - maybe I should sign up for the city park edible plants course.

I jest. I churned the soil and bought the potatoes before I ever listened to the novel. I just like watching life spring from the ground.

Thanks to my time spent outside in the afternoons, we're in a perpetual 'breakfast for dinner' mode. I haven't made the switch to a summer menu yet. My soup pot feels too heavy, but we're not quite to salad mode. As a cook, I'm floundering a bit for seasonally appropriate creative meals. But I've come up with several new 'brinner' dishes.
Eggs from a friend's farm - so fresh they haven't even been cleaned

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On a 30th

My Love,

Happy belated birthday! I'm sorry the day was rushed and disorganized and a bit anti-climatic. Maybe that's how 30 should be, remind you that it's really just the next day in your life.

I can't believe you're just now 30. It feels like we've been living in 30 for a couple years now. Like Gwenny ushered us into a new verse in that Alan Jackson song, you know, the one that makes me tear up. Remember when old ones died and new were born, and life was changed, disassembled, rearranged.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Cleaning out my Grandparent's Apartment

My grandparents' home tells of six continents of world travel - Pakistan, New Guinea, Kenya, Chile, Switzerland, India {the full list warrants its own post}. And from all these places, the accompanying souvenirs. Items that I love for their craftsmanship, made by artists in villages who took precious time to create beauty amongst hostility. A collection of eye-catching pieces, almost lost to the next amazing eye-catching piece.

They used it all.  Sugar bowls and jewelry cases and pencil holders. No piece was so 'precious' that it must remain wrapped in tissue paper, ferreted away in a drawer where no one could see it. Chips happened. Cracks and glue. Just life. All this functional art used, seen, touched every day. The craftsmen might be more pleased to see it cracked and loved, then wrapped and saved and never enjoyed. The art isn't intended to last forever. It is intended to bring joy and beauty every day.

I see myself in their home. Where my esthetic originated. Grandmother's pendants. Granddad's African mammal art. Inlayed wood trays. Not just me - big one's obsession with elephants and giraffes is genetic. We just have Kenya in our blood, handed down through my great grandfather who wanted more than anything to see Africa. I'm the fourth generation to make the pilgrimage to the grasslands. Scraped by on mac n' cheese for a year in college to save for the trip. I had to go. And I had to go back as soon as the plane lifted from the Kenyan tarmac.

{Child memories are funny things. Of all the pieces in my grandparents' bedroom, the piece I remember: Figment, the Imaginary Dragon - a stuffed toy from Epcot. Why did my child brain latch onto that? It still sits in their bedroom. I laugh.}
My most valued treasure from my grandparents - Grandmother's Bible. That Bible sits with my mom's and mine. A legacy of faith - the plumb line of my family. This is what I want to carry home for my girls. This is what lasts. Afternoons spent on vinyl deck chairs practicing the 23rd Psalm and the catechism with Grandmother. Her faith taught to this younger woman to be carried on for generations. One day, I hope big one and small one add their Bibles to the pile and thank the Lord for generations of His grace.

Never mind bank accounts and collections, net worth. Faith is the inheritance, the only inheritance that lasts.

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness throughout generations. You do not forget your people. You do not leave them hopeless and alone. You uphold us with your righteous right hand and grace our grandchildren. Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wait! Girls! Stop!

I'm glad you didn't pop in for a visit today, not because I wouldn't enjoy your company, but because you would have seen through the "momma" title straight to the hack. Immediate 'un-following' of a woman who pretends to write about parenting and Godly living.

Small one dragging clean laundry through the dirt on the patio {my reward for being 'green'}. Big one digging up plants {have you ever tried to locate an uprooted cucumber sprout in your lawn? The search for the fountain of youth is more rewarding}. Me taping Noah's Ark back together {big one's inner book monster made a resurgence - why don't they teach basic library repair skills in Lamaze class?}. I say zig; they zag. Eyes glazed, I mutter to no one, Folly is bound up in the heart of a child - this is not personal.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Even the Trees Praise the Lord!

The Lord or cyberspace or some other uncontrollable force saved you from my first post. Blogger froze, and I lost an hour of my life to "unsaved changes." What is it about trials common to man {at least common to bloggers} that sends the heart into self-control off/self-pity-hyperdrive?

Best part, my post was about worshipping through a hard heart. Insisting on praise to replace gripe. My self-will is being tested.

So what happened? Did I reach deep in my soul and pull out a nugget of praise for the Lord. Not so much. I shut the computer in disgust, rounded up the natives and went to Trader Joe's, still frustrated by my morning.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Question from Katniss

Enough fiddling with design elements. Time for a real post.
What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?~~Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This quote says it all. The people of the capitol, obsessed with food, appearance, and entertainment at the expense of hungry people in the districts. Unfortunately, a tale as old as time.

I can't shake Katniss' question: How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by?

No soap box about unequal distribution of resources. I've stood on that box and filibustered.

Never mind feeling guilty that I'm not combing. God planned my birth in the richest country in the world at its richest hour {Before you remind me of the recessions, let me remind you: We worry about whether tomatoes are from heirloom seeds}.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


SPF's, cooking timers, ISO and AF meters. Aren't we trained to avoid over exposure?  A little heat, a little light is good for us. A lot will devastate us.

But we are Christ-followers, called to carry instruments of death. Our purpose is self-devastation. Crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.

I like to hide, avoid exposure, shove my sin into dark recesses, hoping God will never realize, hoping I will never realize just how sinful I am. But when I wall in that sin, don't I look just like Eve, hiding behind a bush so God won't see the bite in the fruit?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Slideshow

Unintended sabbath. Laundry slow drying on line. House is quiet. Pace slowed. My heart can reflect on a full weekend, rest in the Word.

[If you] call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy day of the Lord honorable... then you shall take delight in the Lord. Isaiah 58:13

Slurping melted M&M's from an Easter egg

 For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness. Isaiah 57:1-2 Words of comfort over ailing grandparents nearing final rest.

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. Isaiah 61:11 Timely word picture - adolescent plants wait patiently in containers until garden soil is properly prepped.

And as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5

How was your Easter weekend?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is Risen!

Eggs soak in bright pink and purple bowls. Small reminders of life hidden inside an inert shell. Handheld picture of the tomb...

Our final story for Easter Week - Can you guess it?

He Is Risen from Luke 24 and John 20

This is the story from God's word: Mary had been sick for a long time. No one could make her better. Until she met Jesus. He healed her body and her heart. Mary loved Jesus and worked hard to help Jesus and his disciples.

But now, Jesus was dead, buried in a tomb that was sealed with a heavy stone. In Jesus' day, mourners brought expensive perfume to graves to help with the smell. It showed respect for the dead man's body. Mary woke up early Sunday morning to take perfume to Jesus.

When she arrived, the heavy stone was rolled back, exposing the cave. When she looked in, Jesus was not in the tomb at all, only the sheet he was wrapped in. Mary was heartbroken. She couldn't even take care of Jesus one last time. Two men from God saw her crying and asked, Why did you come to a grave to look for someone who's alive? Jesus isn't laying dead in a tomb. He's alive!

Mary thought the men were crazy. Dead people didn't walk out of graves. But then she heard a familiar voice, Mary. She turned around and saw Jesus, alive! She threw her arms around Jesus.  If Jesus could make his death right, He could make everything right. All sin and all pain and all death. This was the beginning of God's new kingdom. That's the end of our story.

If you used these stories, please tell me about it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Great Race

How dark must Saturday have felt? All hope wrongfully buried deep in a cave, hidden behind an immovable boulder. Waiting for another traitor to lead soldiers and pharisees to arrest key followers. Wondering if they were about to face a false trial, hidden behind closed doors. Or would they be left alone? No direction, no leader, no jobs, no family, no Jesus. No wonder the disciples hid in despair.

They'd seen Lazarus walk out of a tomb. But Jesus was there to call him. What happens when Jesus is the one in the tomb? When the untouchable teacher who calms raging waves is so completely beaten? He didn't even defend himself. As if he had determined his death before they even arrested him.

In light of the despair of that Saturday long ago, our teachable story is one to combat the dark days, a story of great hope, taken from Hebrews 12:1-3:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary or lose heart.

Team Work
The Great Race

This is the story from God's word. All around us, a race {run with your arms} is being run. A very long race over steep hills and low valleys. It's a race that God designed for all of his people to run. Sometimes, on the steep hills, the runners get so tired that they want to quit. But God has given them a special power {flex muscles} so that they can keep running. This power is called faith. And faith grows unbreakably strong when runners run together.

To make sure that no runner is ever left alone, God gave his special people stories of other faithful people. Like Abraham and Moses, who risked everything they cared about to obey God. They trusted God's big promise to send Jesus as their deliverer. When we think about other people's faith, it makes our faith stronger.

Even better, we have the story of Jesus. The only way people could walk and talk with God again was if perfect Jesus accepted all the punishment for their sin. Jesus only thought about how wonderful this reunion would be, like a shepherd's party after finding his lost lamb. He focused on that celebration as he was punished for everyone else. When we think about Jesus' faith, it makes our faith stronger.

With our super power of faith, strengthened by other people, we can run hard and finish the long race {throw arms out}. At the finish line is a huge party with all of the other faithful runners. The party never ends, as we celebrate the race with Jesus. This is the end of the story.

If you use the stories, please tell me about it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Death of the King

In East Tennessee, our thorns are briars - blackberries and roses. Scratched skin, snagged clothing - uncomfortable but not dangerous. In Kenya, thorn has a different reality. Spines, spears, needles - 3 inch inflexible shafts ending in razor points. Meant to deter herds of grazers from destroying the few desperate leaves that grow in the months of dry. The shame and pain of the crown Jesus wore on earth could be felt on any acacia tree.
Artist - Bill Timm
Our next story {Day 5 of Easter Week} What other story can you tell on Good Friday? The Death of Jesus Matthew 26:26-27:61, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, John 16-19
This is the story from God's word: Jesus and his best friends sat around a large table, celebrating the day God's special people left Egypt. Jesus was preparing them for what was about to happen:
Soon, he said, You will not see me anymore. I am going to be with God. When I do, I will make everything new. But I won't leave you alone. I am sending a special,  perfect helper to you. His disciples were confused, but they didn't say anything.
Then Jesus led them to their favorite garden. Like the first garden, a betrayal was about to happen. While Jesus was praying, one of his friends showed up with an army to arrest him, even though Jesus had never done anything wrong.
An angry court listened to lying witnesses and convicted Jesus of crimes he never committed. They sentenced him to death. As he died, he looked at the people around him and loved them. He prayed, Lord, forgive them. Then he accepted the punishment for all their disobedience from God, all the way back to Eve's fruit and on as long as time. Then he cried out, It is finished because he had done everything God asked him to do.
His friends came and buried him in a cave. Then they rolled a big rock in front of the cave door and sealed it up. They ran away and hid thinking that this was the end of Jesus. That's the end of our story.
If you used the stories, please tell me about it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Good Keeper

Another teachable story, a parable that introduces Jesus and his ministry. This story is to be told on Day 4 of Passion Week.

Tonight at dinner, big one told us the "serpent story," hitting every point. Small one helped with the hand motions. Favorite lines like "he spoke a lie!" and "God sent them out of the garden" {with wide sweeping arms} are acted out over and over. A very proud moment for me and encouragement to keep writing, keep telling. They are learning, more than I expected.
"The Good Shepherd" Jane Ladik

Day 4: The Good Shepherd Luke 15:2-7, John 10:1-18
This is the story from God's word: Once there was a man who took care of a flock of sheep. Every day he carefully led his sheep into the hills and picked a safe, good place for them to eat. Every night he faithfully led them back to their pen, where he slept by the gate to guard them. He loved his sheep, and all his sheep knew him and followed the sound of his voice.
One day when the flock was eating on a safe hill, a little lamb wandered off, leaving the good keeper and the flock behind. He walked so far that he could not remember the way back. Soon night fell. In the dark, the sheep was frightened and cried out, "Help!" Out of the darkness, the keeper appeared. He was so excited to see the little lamb that he scooped him into his arms and carried the lamb all the way back to the pen. When they returned home, the keeper threw a party with all his friends to celebrate the lamb's safe return.
This good keeper loved his sheep and risked everything to find his lost lamb. This good keeper is Jesus who loves his people and risked everything to make them safe. When his people cried for help, Jesus left his great throne in heaven, walked along a dark hill and delivered his people forever. That's the end of the story.
{This is not a hand motion heavy story, but I think it is easy to act out as you tell it.}

I remember learning this story when I was little, not much older than big one. The scared sheep calling from a rocky ledge while the good shepherd scours the hills to bring him home. I felt the desperation for the reunion. An aha! moment for me as a baby christian.

Jesus' original audience were the 99 sheep, probably offended that the shepherd left them alone to look for one foolish lamb. But for the foolish lamb, the tax collectors and sinners Jesus was so fond of, this story is life itself. Praise the Lord that I was counted with the foolish lamb, that the angels rejoiced upon my safe return!
If you use the stories, please tell me about it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

God's Big Promise

I'm sorry the timing of my teachable story posts has been so confusing. I'm trying to stay two steps ahead, so you can stay one step ahead. Here's the layout for Passion Week teaching so far:

Day 1 {today} Creation
Day 2 {tomorrow} the Fall.
Day 3 {Wednesday} God's Big Promise Genesis 12, Exodus 1, 3-4, 7-12, Deuteronomy 6:4-7, 30:15-20
Context: Adam had many sons and many grandsons and many great grandsons, on and on. Most of his sons did not love God, but one son, Abraham, was loved by God and loved God back. God promised {right index finger to lips, change to a flat hand as you bring to meet left fist ASL for 'promise'} Abraham that he would always love Abraham's sons and grandsons and great grandsons. They would be God's special people. Best of all, God promised that one of Abraham's grandsons would deliver {sweep your flat hand up, as if lifting} the whole world. 
This is the story from God's word: Now Abraham's great, great, great grandchildren, the people God loved, were all slaves {encircle your wrist with your other hand} in a far off land, Egypt. Their lives were very hard, and they cried for someone to deliver them. God heard them. He told a shepherd named Moses to go to Egypt and tell the king to 'Let God's special people go!'  God was going to deliver his special people from slavery, and Moses was going to lead them home.
Moses walked up to the king in Egypt and told him to let God's special people go. The king said, 'No,' {shake head} so God sent punishments to change the king's mind. But the king still said 'No' {cross arms while shaking head}. Finally, God told Moses that he was going to kill the firstborn son of everyone in Egypt, even the king. But He would deliver his special people, if they took the blood from a lamb and painted their doors with it. When his people obeyed, God's messenger passed over their houses, leaving them safe.
 After God's final punishment, the king let God's special people go. God's people danced and sang to God as they followed Moses toward their home. God had delivered them. When they set up camp, God explained his big promise to them. He told them that if they would love Him more than anything that He would give them a home and protect them. But if they loved other things more than God, He would punish them and take away their home. Finally, he reminded them of his big promise to Abraham: one day, God would send Jesus, and He would deliver God's special people forever. That's the end of the story.
 Days 4-7 are forthcoming. Tim and I are still deciding exactly how to arrange them and which passages to focus on. Please pray for our wisdom as we work through these stories.

As always, feedback is appreciated!


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