Monday, April 15, 2013

Decisions, Intercessions, Accusations


Decisions:
I'm so relieved, but now I'm having trouble sleeping!  Last night I kept having crazy college dreams and obsessive thoughts about the logistics of getting Kory to Texas for all of the necessary college activities this summer now that he knows where he will attend. {Lord willing, of course...}

Kory was in complete agony all last week trying to make a wise decision about what college to attend.  I think I only made it worse for him by sending him to Texas over the Easter weekend and through the next week to visit two of the schools he had been accepted to, but had never visited.  My sister, Melinda, graciously and generously offered to register him for official visits and them take him to the two schools ~ one of which is her alma mater ~ Abilene Christian University. {She also made VERY late and VERY early drives to the Austin airport to transport him.  Thank you, sis!}

He was treated like a KING at ACU!  Reserved parking spot with his name on it, personal tours, free t-shirts, amazing gluten free foods in the dining hall {he texted me a photo of his GF hot dog, hamburger and cupcake!}, lots of personal attention, and the added perk of many personal connections because of Melinda's friendships with the faculty and staff there.  He came away loving it.  He also found out that the son of dear friends of ours in Texas ~ actually Robert's best friend and college roommate ~ was planning to attend ACU and that made the draw to ACU even stronger.

He was really leaning toward ACU and had even switched his Baylor key chain to an ACU one.  He told several people that's where he would most likely attend.  I was ready to put down his deposit and register him for orientation so that we could get our summer schedule finalized!

Intercessions:
To say that I've been on my knees in prayer constantly about this would only be a slight exaggeration. And then in my interceding for Kory, the Lord seemed to not only be reassuring me that He was going to provide for Kory's education, but that the best place for him would be Baylor.  Robert seemed to be getting the same message.  We checked in with Kory every day, and he would respond with an agonizing "I don't know."  At the end of the week I asked him if it would help him if we told him what school we thought was the best choice, and his response was "No." Ha!  I kept praying and praying that the Lord would confirm it to ALL of us.  {Cooper and Kayla have always been certain of Baylor!}  You should see my journal.  The persistent widow was, and am I about this whole college thing!  Every page has pleadings for clear discernment and abundant financial provision.

Then on Saturday morning, he was up early and began talking with Robert at the kitchen table.  As they talked about pros and cons, Robert suggested that Baylor was the best choice for majoring in business.  It actually has the same accreditation as ACU, but is still valued more highly in the business world.  Baylor also has at least a couple of perks for pastor's kids in the way of yearly scholarships. Kory agreed and decided on Baylor ~ which had always been his top choice until his mother sent him to Texas to experience two more schools! Now that we've put down the deposit, and it's official, I keep asking him if he's happy.  He assures me that he is.  "Any regrets?" I inquire.  Nope.  He's just excited now.  And glad the decision making process is over!

Accusations:
And this is a bit unrelated {or maybe not?} but many intercessions have been made on behalf of Kayla this morning.  I wondered why she was in such a quiet funk this morning.  As she came to tell me goodbye ~ off to do schoolwork with her Daddy at their favorite coffee shop ~ she told me that she had a bad dream last night ~ really bad.  God, Jesus, Mom, and Dad were all standing before her and telling her that she was ugly and worthless and reminding her of "all the bad things she's ever done."  Satan is so low.  Accusing a little girl and filling her heart and mind with his lies.  We've taught her how to stand firm in Jesus and throw off the lies of the enemy many times, but it still affects her, of course.  As she cried, I prayed for her protection and for strength in Jesus to believe the truth that He loves her and has chosen her to be His daughter ~ thinking her lovely and beautiful in Christ. I told her that the enemy hates it when she fills communion cups at church and helps take care of babies in the nursery so that others can worship.  He despises it when she reads her Bible and prays.  He also hates it when Daddy teaches and proclaims the truth, and he may just be taking all of that out on her.  He is such a coward and a liar who lives to accuse those who trust in Jesus ~ even my little girl ~ who you can bet I will continue to be praying for.

Sigh.  Parenting requires full engagement and yet complete dependence on the Lord for all things.  I really had no idea when I started this journey.  Asking that He continue to strengthen and sustain us in the battle.

Meanwhile....so incredibly thankful that my son will be at such a wonderful school.  So amazed at how the Lord has already provided for the financial obligations required this week.  Continuing to trust Him for the rest of this new adventure.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gluten Free Friday ~ Maple Ginger Chicken Oven-Kabobs

Well, it's cold, damp, icy, and grey around here today, and though we've had a FEW spring-like days, the BBQ grill is still hibernating in the garage.  I can hardly wait to roll it out and start grilling and eating outside, but it feels like that time might never arrive.  I'm wearing a sweater and wool socks today, and had to tread carefully as I parked downtown and walked to Starbucks to meet a friend for coffee, because of the ICE.  Yes, the sidewalk and streets were coated with half an inch of slushy ICE!  Surrounding towns were getting snow and it was even accumulating!  The poor Starbucks barista who had to shovel {yes, shovel!} the walkway kept slipping and sliding down the walkway.  I was sitting by the window watching him and we were both laughing.

But in our longing for summer barbecues, Kayla discovered a recipe for chicken kabobs that are cooked in the oven, and they are delicious!  {Probably mostly due to their sugar content, but we were desperate.}  Be sure to soak the skewers, so they don't get charred in the oven ~ and enjoy these for dinner if you can't get out and make the grilled version quite yet!

Maple Ginger Chicken Kabobs

1 pkg boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks {seeds removed}
1 red pepper, cut into chunks {seeds removed}
1 purple/red onion {cut into chunks}

For Sauce:
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp maple syrup {or honey}
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp grated ginger
1 lime, rind grated and juice squeezed into sauce

Soak wooden skewers in water and let soak for 10-15 minutes while preparing chicken and veggies.

Place all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 2 minutes. Cut chicken thighs into small chunks and add chicken to the sauce.  Marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.  Thread onto soaked skewers, alternating chicken, peppers, and onions. Place skewers onto a cookie sheet or broiling pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Switch oven setting to "broil" and broil the skewers for 5-10 more minutes, checking to make sure they are not burning or browning too much.

Serve with rice or potatoes and a salad for a happy have-to-be-inside-barbecue!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gluten Free Friday ~ Fish Taco Fascination

Mexican food is still my all-time favorite cuisine ~ even after all these years of living in the land of lobster, clam chowder, corn chowder and no Tex-Mex.  At a restaurant, I would typically order something like tortilla soup or enchiladas{after eating way too many chips with salsa}, but for at least the last two years, I've been totally taken with fish tacos.  I don't think I've ordered anything but fish tacos in every Mexican or sea food restaurant from Massachusetts {Mama Iguanas}, to Texas {Salsalitos}to North Carolina {Cabo Fish Taco} California {Neptune's Net}. I just love how fresh and light they are with the perfect blend of flavors ~ yum!
I've been a little scared to try them at home, though, because I didn't think I could reproduce them well, and I wasn't sure how my fish-is-not-our-favorite-food family would respond.  I decided to be daring this week and give them a try.  After Easter I researched several recipes ~ everyone from Martha Stewart to Eating Well magazine to The Food Network ~ and found that while there are different versions of the recipe, a few things are standard like a cabbage slaw filling and white fish ~ usually tilapia.  I just picked out my favorite ingredients and cooking methods from several of the recipes I came across and came up with the one below. We had it for dinner several nights ago.  The kids ~ well, two of them anyway, Kory was off visiting colleges in Texas and evidently had his own version of fish tacos at my sister's house ~ were skeptical when they heard what I was cooking, but they ended up gobbling up every last bite.
 I grilled a stack of corn tortillas in a bit of oil {actually just sprayed each one with cooking spray} on a griddle to make them less crumbly, and we filled each one with a slaw made of Napa cabbage, purple cabbage, green onions, and cilantro as well as avocados, minced jalapenos  and grapefruit. The grocery store I went to was out of tilapia, so I just went with cod, and it was fine, but I still think tilapia would be better.  The topping was a cream sauce made of sour cream, salsa, chili powder, and cumin.  I would have used chipotle in the sauce, but every can of chipotle peppers I find is in adobo sauce which always has gluten in it.  Evidently, La Costena brand is gluten free, so I'll be on the lookout for it now.

Here's the recipe:

Fish Tacos

Marinade:
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated zest of lime
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
2 lbs tilapia {or cod, halibut, mahi mahi}

Fillings:
1 cup purple cabbage, thinly shredded
2 cups Napa cabbage, thinly shredded
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 bunch scallions/green onions, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced or diced
1 grapefruit, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 jalapeno, diced

Cream Sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup salsa {or diced chipotle in adobo sauce}
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder


corn tortillas
cook spray

For marinade: in a small bowl, stir together olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, cumin, chili powder, pressed garlic, and salt and pepper. Cut fish in large pieces and place in a ziploc bag or glass baking dish.  Pour marinade over fish and turn fish to coat.  Refrigerate for an hour.

For filling: While fish is marinating, thinly shred cabbages, chop scallions and cilantro and toss together until thoroughly combined.  Also chop avocados, jalapenos, and grapefruit, but place in separate bowls.

For cream: Whisk together sour cream, lime juice, salsa {or chipotle}, cumin, and chili powder.  Place in a small bowl for serving alongside other fillings.

For fish: When fish has had time to marinate for about an hour {or more} place the pieces on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour marinade into a large skillet over medium heat for 15 minutes ~ it will thicken a bit and the garlic will become aromatic.  After fish has been in oven 15 minutes, transfer to skillet and cook 10 minutes more cutting the fish into smaller chunks while it cooks.

For tortillas: Heat up a griddle or skillet.  Lightly spray corn tortillas with cooking spray, and "grill" each one for a few seconds on each side.  Fold into a "taco" shape and keep warm.

Making the tacos: Fill each tortilla with cabbage slaw mixture, avocados, jalapenos, grapefruit, fish, and top with cream sauce.

Serve with brown rice and black beans and watch it all disappear!

 I think Cooper ate about 6 tacos himself ~ all filled to the brim with veggies.  Hurray for kids who will eat cabbage!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Celebrating Together {Resurrection Sunday!}


I'm a day late, but for some reason Blogger wasn't working last night, and I couldn't log in to my blog. So, I sat in a chair drinking tea, watching the final episode of "The Bible" with Robert and the kids, and being thankful for the wonderful season of Lent and the great Resurrection Day celebrated with a crowd at church and then at my own house.

It was hard not having Kory here, though.  I have photos of my three together for every Easter since Kayla was born, but he's missing from these since he is still in Texas visiting a couple of colleges there.  See the obvious gap in this photo?  That's sibling love right there!

Kayla enjoyed having some of her best friends over for lunch after church and an egg hunt.
Cooper enjoyed having some of his best buddies over, too.  They disappeared after lunch, and even before dessert.  The only thing we could figure is that they headed to UMass to play basketball.  Basketball is the ONLY thing that takes priority over dessert in their minds.
 I got to totally indulge in one of my favorite things ever which is having a crowd around my dining room table for lunch after church ~ and a very special crowd at that.  We ate barbecued brisket, pork tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, green salad, fruit salad, asparagus, broccoli-bacon salad, chocolate cake, ice cream, lemon bars, and more ~ with help from friends, of course! Almost everyone stayed into the evening and the men hid eggs for the girls while the women did dishes and drank another cup of tea or coffee.  So wonderful!
Blessed to have these great ladies in my life ~ even if some of them couldn't stay in their Easter clothes long enough to take the special Easter Sunday photos. {The kids stripped almost immediately, too. Had to get their pics before unlocking the front door once home from church!}
Such a gift to celebrate the Resurrection and the end of my Lenten journey like this. Robert preached through I Corinthians 15 on Sunday ~ explaining in basic, but very important terms the necessity of the Resurrection. I kept thinking of a few things...

First ~ something I read a few days back in John Piper's Finally Alive:

O that every believer would know the glory of what has happened to him! Do you know what God has done for and in you? You were ransomed with the imperishable blood of Christ.  You were raised with Christ from the dead to an eternally living hope. You were called from death to life like Lazarus, and you saw Christ for the Treasure that He is. You were born again.  You received Him and were saved.

It's a truly miraculous gift, and this gift was undeserved and unearned.

Second ~ one of the hymns we sang yesterday and have been singing a lot lately:

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I Am
The king of glory and of grace
One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my savior and my God!

And third ~ the simple creed attributed to James, the brother of Jesus,  that Robert had us repeat at the end of yesterday's service:

Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

And this musical version of the creed that gives me chills and tears every time I listen and sing...


Thank you, Lord, for dying, for rising, and for promising to come again ~ for me.