Saturday, April 02, 2011

African Peanut-Chicken Soup

Celebrating Gary's birthday, we ate supper at a little coffee shop around the corner from the theatre we attended. My adventurous choice was the African Peanut-Chicken Soup. Upon tasting this heavenly concoction, I melted with the joy of its deliciousness. Then I came home and decided I had to figure out how to make it myself.

1 pint of chicken broth or turkey stock
2 Tbsp uncooked rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp chopped hot pepper (more or less, to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh tomato
(or canned petite-diced tomato)

Bring to boil over high heat.
Lower heat and season soup with:
garlic powder
chili powder
salt if necessary
Then simmer until rice is done. (If using white rice instead of brown, saute onion for 5 minutes before adding broth and rice and tomato.)

1/3 cup chopped, cooked chicken or turkey
When meat is heated through in the soup,
stir in 3-4 Tablespoons peanut butter.

This easy-breezy recipe makes about 3 cups of delicious soup in about 45 minutes (or less, if you insist on white rice).

(Shhhh... nobody caught on to my near-rabid preference for brown rice here, d'ya think?)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Sharing in the Mystery of Suffering

A quote from p 312 of Hammer of God --
Aunt Agneta is speaking to the pastor, Torvik, about the cross and suffering and sharing each other's burdens (as she was talking about her grandson's apostasy and her plan to adopt his baby and take in the girlfriend he abandoned).

"Usually we suffer only for our own sins. But sometimes we are given the favor of suffering for the sins of others. That is part of the mystery of the Atonement: when one is joined to Christ, one is given the task of lifting a portion from a certain sinner and suffering in his stead, so that he does not have to carry alone all the bitterness of his deeds."
She spoke slowly and gently, as if she were afraid to distort a fine and fragile secrecy through clothing it in words.

Yes! There is joy in sharing someone else's burden.

And yes! There is something almost unspeakable about trying to explain some truths.

Today's Laugh

A cartoon of an April Fool's Joke gone very wrong.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Just grabbing a couple of minutes to throw some pictures on the blog of Katie & Nathan's new arrival.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Implanted Word

Pastor was talking the other day about how he likes the phrase, "the implanted Word." It reminds us of the seed being sown or planted (as in Matthew 13 and Mark 4). It reminds us that the Word grows and bears fruit. It reminds us that the plant grows better when manure is dumped on it [fertilizer, doncha know].

But what I never thought of before is that the seed is planted in dirt. What does God say in Genesis 3 (and every Ash Wednesday)? "Dust you are, and to dust you shall return."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Buying and Receiving Gifts

When there's not much money, a family learns to buy only what it needs, not what it wants.

But what constitutes needs and wants?

Yes, we need food, but do we need hamburger, or can we live on black-eyed peas and rice? Do we need fresh fruit, or is canned good enough? Do we need to go to the doctor and the pharmacy when we're sick, or is that a want? Would recuperating at home (with garlic and herbs and chicken soup) be sufficient? When you have back pain that a D.O. could alleviate, is it a need or a want to visit the doctor and get relief? Do I really need a car to drive to work, or could I walk or bike the 9 miles if I had to? We live in Wisconsin, so we need heat to stay alive through the winter, but do we need 67°, or is that a want? Would 55° be enough? I suspect that we are far more spoiled than I'm willing to admit.

For quite a few years, we've pretty much skipped over birthday presents. I don't think we've ever given anniversary gifts to our kids. What's under the Christmas tree is pretty minimal. This bothers other people more than it bothers us. When I think how many Americans are burdened by too much stuff, I realize that minimal (or sometimes even non-existent) gift-giving may not be such a terrible thing.

There is, however, one rule we've tried to follow. When we receive birthday gifts of cash, we don't spend it on necessities. When our parents say, "Here's a check; do something fun with it," we figure we ought to do something FUN. Right? But when you're living a mega-frugal life, it's hard to let money slip through your fingers. Often we go out to eat with gift-money, but (being frugal) we usually have money left after paying the bill and the tip. So rather than racking our brains to figure out something to spend the money on, we cash the checks, place the money in an envelope, and wait until something really really obvious shows up that we want to do for fun. That's part of the reason we could go to the marvelous play we attended Sunday. It's also why we decided to send two of our daughters to this play. Hey, we can justify it as their past birthday gifts!

And at times like this, I know for sure that we are much wealthier than I usually recognize! The expansive, joyous feeling in my chest from having watched that play -- well, that's not a need. But what a treasure it is!

Keeping His Word in Affliction

Before I was afflicted, I went astray,
but now I keep Your word.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
that I may learn Your statutes.
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
according to Your word to Your servant.
(Psalm 119:67, 71, 75-76)

If God were an angry judge, you'd think those verses meant that He kept sending us troubles until we Learn Our Lessons, and shape up, and fly right. Punish-punish-punish until we get our act together and obey already.

But ... if God is a loving father ... if God desires more than anything that we cling to Him in faith ... those passages from Psalm 119 look different. When we are afflicted and troubled, we see that we have no strength within ourselves to straighten up and fly right. When we are afflicted and troubled, we recognize our need for His kindness and mercy, His "judgment" that declares us righteous for the sake of Jesus' death to atone for our sin.

We are so quick to think "keeping His word" is about what we DO, instead of about hanging onto His promises of grace to us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

a capella chorales

What is it about singing good, strong Lutheran chorales, in 3- or 4-part harmony, without accompaniment? It's lush and rich. Our choir director (aka, pastor) doesn't like music to drag. And yet, when we sing in parts during the opening for Bible class or during chapel (that is, when there is no organ), the music slows down, almost like we're caressing the chords, enjoying the richness, letting it all soak into rafters and seep into our ears and our hearts.

Back When I Was Young

We had fire drills and tornado drills regularly at school. We even had drills to practice what we'd do in case of a nuclear attack. (I wonder if they still have those, or if it would be too scary for kids.)

But we but never lock-down drills. Murders? In school? Weapons? Who could imagine such a thing?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Talking to Yourself

On my second day of training at my new job, my mentor took me aside and told me that I had to stop talking to myself. She said that a couple of customers had given me odd looks while I was rehearsing to myself which step to take next in processing transactions. Sometimes the computer prompted me to insert a certain slip of paper into the printer, and I would pick up the wrong one, and then I told myself, "No, not the pink ticket, but the blue one."

Apparently, that is verboten.
People should not talk to themselves.

It was hard! I had spent decades narrating my life to children. That is a big part of how kids learn: Mom explains what she's doing and why and what the steps are. And then, when you homeschool kids, you have to discuss a gazillion different subjects, reading, dissecting, analyzing, postulating, all day, about nearly everything that comes into your life.

On top of that, I have found that I can focus better when I hear things and talk my way through new situations. I don't think that's so unusual, do you? I mean, maybe I ought not need that, but it helps with problem-solving in unfamiliar territory.

I worked hard to bite my lip at work and not let myself verbalize my way through the day.

It was SO good, then, when I repeatedly noticed my boss doing the exact same thing I'd been told to put a halt to. I'm not getting in trouble now for the times I slip up and talk to myself. And it's a good thing, because I still want to make use of the teaching tool of talking my way through the day!

I wonder about other people. Have you found that raising toddlers and/or homeschooling has nudged you into the world of talking to yourself? Is it normal for people to talk to themselves (and the refrigerator, and the laundry basket, and the toothbrush, and the grocery cart) more as they get older?