Saturday, June 4, 2011

I am Still Here. In Case Anyone Out There was Wondering.

I am slowly coming to realize something about blogging as a mommy of little ones. I can sum it up in under 10 words:

It's not as easy as it used to be.

It's really not.

When I was single I blogged fairly regularly and had plenty of time to sit and study and look up cross-references and find Bible verses in support of the points I was choosing to make. I had time to make every post a tome if I wanted to, and apparently began to think that's what I had to do. Because when I got married and started having children and found that I didn't have as much time as I used to, I thought I couldn't write anymore until I DID have the time to sit down and “do it right.”

Oh. Do you suppose this could be that perfectionism thing cropping up again?

Someday I will figure this blogging-while-mommying thing out, I hope. The progress is slow, but I think I am making progress. In the form of rare little moments of illumination when a lightbulb flashes on in my head and I realize something that rocks my little blogging mindset – something like:

Oh. I don't HAVE to write a long blog post.

It doesn't even have to be more than one paragraph.

In fact, it could just be a sentence or two if they were really good sentences.

And it's not always necessary to know the exact Bible reference of the verse I want to post. If needing to take the time to look it up so I can post it keeps me from posting it, just post the verse from memory and say “if you want to know the exact location of this verse in your Bibles check out Bible Gateway.”

It's possible, right?

These revelations may not seem like revelations to many of you, but they were pretty earth-rocking for this particular perfectionist.

I'm still here. Perhaps someday I'll figure out how to find the time to make SOME kind of post every day, like I want to. Until then...maybe more frequent, shorter posts won't prove impossible for me.

But don't expect too much because I'm thinking about potty-training my 18-month-old sometime in the next few weeks.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cloudy Day Thankfulness

It's cloudy here today.  Yesterday was a vibrant break in the long week of clouds we had before, but today the clouds are back again and the world looks gray and wintery.

I keep remembering what my dear friend Hannah Z. always says when I comment on cloudy weather: "But it's sun-shiney in our hearts!"

Or at least, it certainly ought to be.  We have every reason in the world for sunshine.

Because He is risen.  Just as He said.  And I am His.  And He is mine.  That is more than I could ever begin to deserve.

But I have weakness still present in me.  Today I was trying to catch up on my Bible plan and read Romans 7, which I was supposed to read several days ago...

But it's as if the Lord knew I would need it more today.  Of course He would know.  He kept it for me to read its truths NOW, when I need them most.  After a sleepless night of struggling with a priceless babe who would. not. sleep.  Have any of you ever been there?  I suspected as much.  You know what it is to have nights of weakly crawling into bed in exhaustion, trying hard not to make a peep lest the child awake, lying down and just drifting off to relieved sleep when...the screaming starts again.

Again?

Rising up to whisk her away to the nursing chair and away from the tired Working Man who needs to rise refreshed for a long day of bringing home the bacon...and I don't whisper how grateful I am to be blessed with a live baby - a baby who lives and squirms and can scream to prove it.  For I know a family who in recent days had to leave a newborn at the hospital...a newborn who never took her first breath.

And all the long 9 months of pregnancy must seem, at the moment, as if they were for nothing, and what that mother wouldn't give to have a live baby screaming through the night - because it means she is breathing and her child never even knew what it was to breathe.

Why, then, do I weep wretched, thankless tears over my breathing child whose screams nearly pierce weary eardrums, and why do I weakly wonder if I'm crazy for wanting that large family I keep talking about?

Knowing full well that, come morning, I will feel the fool and will be right back to wanting that large family again.  Because it's more than just a want: it is what I believe the Lord wants of me: after all, "be fruitful and multiply" is a hard command to fulfill if you only have enough to replace yourself and your husband when you are gone.  And besides...I have already witnessed and know that, though it may be a duty to bring forth children, it is hardly a thankless one.  One precious smile, one bubbling giggle, two little arms thrown about your neck, a little voice saying, "Mum-mum?" and I know, know, know that it is all worth it - more than worth it.  It's joyous, it's beautiful, and I love being a mommy. 

But in the dark of night, when my head aches and my eyes won't stay open and my jaw splits with yawning and my mind is so jumbled I am awake and yet dreaming at the same time...I am weak, and the weakness wins the moment.  The weakness lets what's really inside show, just like the hot water brings out the true contents of the tea bag.  I do not honor Christ with my attitude as I want to do.  I do not joyfully scoop up the screaming child and whisper, "I am so blessed just to have your precious, living little body in my arms, and so blessed that you ARE nursing well and that your are gaining so much weight and that you are so pink and healthy and beautiful and God has been so good to me..."

No.  I whisper, "What in the blue green earth is wrong with you?"

Ugliness.  Words that would hurt if she could understand.

She doesn't know.  She doesn't mean to make the night so long.  She needs me because she is new and little and growing and scared and it takes so much work to get through being a newborn - and won't someone please just hold me close and love on me and make me feel secure and fill my empty tummy with sweet mother's milk?

And there I stand, weeping selfish over my own exhaustion, picking her up with hands that are anything but joyful, and I do not pick the Boppy pillow up gently - I do it with a jerk that doesn't in any way help the angst I feel within. 

I was ugly.  I was very, very ugly.  And I knew I was being ugly at the time - knew I would regret it - but at the moment I was so caught up in my love of sleep that I completely forgot what I have learned before: if you get angry when you are deprived of something, that's a good indication that it's an idol to you.

What a fool I am.  How much I have to learn.  Romans 7 struck me right between the eyes today, which was exactly what I needed.  "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Save me from the old man, Lord Jesus.  How much I want to be like You and how often I am reminded of how very, very far I have to go.

How thankful I am that the Lord does not respond in kind to me when I, His child, cry out to Him in the dark of night and reach forth flailing arms, struggling, not even knowing what I need, just knowing that I am hungry and I need Him.  He never begrudges me.  He never chides me for needing Him.  He just picks me up and fills my hungry soul with goodness from the pure milk of His Word.

May I be more like Him tonight when my child cries out for me.  May I not forget to be thankful, for ingratitude leads to all manner of sin.  May I not forget how unbelievably, richly blessed I am.

Now if you will just permit me to post my list of thankfulness - an exercise I much need to engage in today since I showed myself so forgetful last night - I will go scoop that little child up and spend some more time hugging on her.  I've already done a lot of it today and I just can't seem to get enough.

24. Sleepless nights that drive me to the Cross

25. That tiny, soft little baby held close with a velvet head under my cheek and breathing warm sweet breath on my neck and little feet kicking and little arms flailing and fontanel throbbing with life.

26. That sweet little 15-month-old who lives up so beautifully to her name and fills our moments with joy.

27. The first precious, tentative, awkward and completely uninhibited giggles of a newborn.

28. Sitting in my chair, nursing Grace...and Felicity tottering over to sit by me on the nearby hearth, with her little baby doll clasped close to her as well...pointing in the wrong direction, admittedly, but she's on the right track.

29. Reading mystery stories out loud with my dear husband and sharing theories as to the outcome.

30. Warm cups of steaming, fragrant tea on a wintery-gray day.

31. The already life-changing "One Thousand Gifts" which I am managing to make my way through in my less-groggy moments.

32. The blessing of Sermonaudio.com and the many wonderful, godly speakers we can access there who we would otherwise rarely get to hear speak.

33. Sunday afternoon gathered by the piano singing hymns as a family - an the off-key humming of Felicity who desperately wants to join us but just isn't quite there yet.  ;)

34. The endless mercy and grace of God, Who continues to teach me more and more about grace through the gift of our Grace, who grows more beautiful every day.  Much like His grace does for me.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Multitude Monday

Learning to savor the small…learning not to grasp at the great…things I have been learning in recent weeks.  Things the Holy Spirit has been pressing upon my heart.  To delight in every childish sound – every opening of tiny ruby lips to gurgle or coo or laugh…and even to cry.  To cherish each kiss on lamb’s-ear-soft cheeks.  To make each hug a little tighter…a little warmer…

A little longer.

And then this book kept popping up here, there, everywhere.  Friends on Facebook asking about it; eagerly devouring it.  Because I am already very fond of Ann’s blog (but hadn’t been reading it recently owing to being Too Tired To Read without Falling Asleep) I went to check it out and lo and behold, it’s about these very things.  About savoring the moments God gives us because they are the only moments we will ever have.  Each one precious, like a gem – and I so quick to let these precious stones of holy moments slip past me like so much dust in the wind.  

But it’s the dust that makes the precious stones anyway, isn’t it?  After all, a diamond is only carbon…the same dust that can also become coal.  And only when pressure is applied does the carbon become either diamond or coal.

So, after all, it’s the moments of pressure that will produce either beauty or ugliness in me…but unlike coal or a diamond, I have some say in the outcome: I can become either a diamond or an ugly lump of coal by determining to either rest in Christ’s strength or by attempting to go on in my own strength.

Which is foolishness, for my own strength is nonexistent anyway.  The only strength there is comes from Christ.  And His strength in me produces a diamond from this rough.  And a diamond is the strongest substance there is…and the only thing that can so much as scratch its surface is another diamond.

So in Christ, nothing can harm me.  In Christ, I can do all things, for He gives me strength.  In Christ, I can learn to live fully in each moment, both in the ones that are easy to savor and the ones that are full of pain – the ones that I want to fling away from me as a child does medicine and say, “This isn’t what I meant when I said to take my life and do with it what You will!”

For each moment is from Him.  No moment is an accident.  I know this.  I do.  Now I must learn to live it.

It’s a journey that will probably take my whole lifetime, but it’s the one His Word calls me to make, for He has bought me.

He leads and I must follow.  May I learn to truly live as He would have me to, and to walk as a child with hands cupped in front of me, receiving each moment as the gift it is and learning to say with the Psalmist, “My cup overfloweth.”

At this moment, any hardship I have to bear is truly miniscule compared to the hardships of many friends who are going through things that seem to me unbearable.  I do not begin to think that I have truly suffered compared to these souls.  My prayers are with them…they go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, while so many of us are in green pastures and beside still waters and still find cause to complain.  This is why I must learn to be grateful for what I have, for if I am not even grateful when the sun shines what will I do when I find myself in the dark and forsaken deluge?  And to those who walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death: remember that the Psalmist who wrote of that forsaken place said, only sentences later: “My cup overflows.”

Indeed, surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  By His grace alone, and in His strength, may I learn…

To live fully in every moment He gives, for each is a gift of grace.

Today is Multitude Monday over at the Holy Experience blog.  It’s been too long since I participated, and I only made it as far as 12.  There are so many more things I’m thankful for than just 12.  So here are just a few of the things I’m thankful for today…

13. For warming rains and the sounds of birds singing as I sat in the quiet this morning…

14. Holding my baby while I rocked and listened to the fleeting sounds of the prematurely warm weather we are enjoying.

15. Moments of watching a newborn try to make Sounds Other Than Crying, and delighting as she managed to make a few happy grunts.

16. Delighting even more as she smiled with pride when she managed to do so.

17. Watching that little 1-month-old face transform from a scrunched-up, distraught, all-the-world’s-forsaken-me mess of heartbroken wrinkles and sobbing lips…to a peaceful calm with lit up eyes and then a toothless smile that takes over her entire face when Mommy picks her up and she looks up into my eyes…

18. The sounds of my 15-month-old playing joyfully in her playroom as I write, with many squeals and chuckles and conversational babbling as she burps her baby doll and plays in her playhouse and knocks over her tea set.

19. Childish feet that come padding quietly up, and chubby little dimpled hands holding up a beloved book so that only big blue eyes are visible over its top, and a little voice saying, “Mum-mum?”

20. Loud crashes from the playroom, followed by that squeaky, childish “Uh-oh!”

21. Spending this morning in the quietude, reading Romans 1, followed by some blog posts, in the warm glow of lamplight with a baby breathing quietly on my chest as the rest of the house still slept.

22. A good night of sleep.  Meaning that it was more than 4 hours before it was interrupted, and then the interruption was only a very short one.  The sweet baby girl is getting her days and nights figured out…it just takes some time.

23. Reading of people who have tragically lost children and weeping over it, and looking down to see that a teardrop had landed on my 1-month-old’s little soft spot and it was beating.  Beating, beating…beating.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

At Last...She Posts


So we are almost to February of 2011, and I haven’t blogged a word in months.  I seem to do this regularly – start my blog up again ambitiously, declaring that THIS time it will work, and THIS time I will stick with it…and then it doesn’t happen.  Why?  Because I don’t sit down at the computer and write anything, that’s why.

Trust me to elucidate the obvious.  At least I don’t obfuscate the hidden.

I don’t think I have a particularly valid excuse for my failure to blog, other than the fact that I simply haven’t made it enough of a priority to do it.  Because I have time management problems that I am still struggling to conquer.  I want to conquer them.  I need to conquer them.  I want to take every minute captive to the obedience of Christ, in whatever way that plays out – not let the minutes take me captive to the obedience of the urgent.  Which is what seems to keep happening to me.

So, as much as anything, this blog seems to be a chronicle of my struggles for dominance over the clock.  Unfortunately, the struggle is mostly chronicled by my long periods of silence.  My blog will never get anywhere at this rate.  But maybe it doesn’t need to.

If you’re reading, whoever you are out there…thank you for sticking with me.  Thank you for wanting to read even though I’m a pretty unpredictable blogger.  I think I would make a better book author, but the problem with that is that I would have to find a publisher.  This way, I can publish myself.  Which hardly ever happens of course, but when it does, I certainly do enjoy it.  I hope you do, too, whoever you are.

I want to write about my attempts to balance my truth-obsessed side with mercy, as the Lord demonstrates in Scripture.  I want to write about the realities of being a Christian stay-at-home wife and mommy, which brings me to one of the reasons I have been absent from blogging: I am now a mommy of two.  Sweet little Grace Anne was born the day after Christmas, and her birth story is rather interesting.  I would love to share it with you, and am currently working on writing it.  But I am finding it surprisingly challenging (or not so surprising, since I was already time-challenged before having any children) to find time to do anything at present other than eating and feeding my two children.  Oh, and manage to cook healthful meals for my husband.  We are trying to eat better this year, but his dietary needs are very different at this point than the dietary needs of a honkin-hungry nursing momma.  So we don’t necessarily need the same food, and Felicity doesn’t necessarily need the same food as the two of us can eat, since she doesn’t yet have molars.  And, of course, Grace Anne is dependent on Mommy for her meals right now.

Well, so is Felicity, for that matter, but at least now Daddy can feed her when he is home, which Mommy appreciates Very Much.

At any rate, I want to write truthfully about my experiences as a Mommy.  I don’t want to pretend that I have no warts; I want to share the ones that are shareable so that I can share how the Lord teaches me to overcome them.  He alone gets the glory for any improvements I may make in conquering my various vices.  But I would never want to keep a blog which insinuates that I am viceless, because that is simply not true.

I want to blog about reality as I know it.  Which involves much beauty: childish giggles, toothless little newborn smiles, baby dances, toys scattered about the floor, tripping over pacifiers, spending evenings around the diaper table…you think that doesn’t sound beautiful?  But it really is, because these are the things I will remember with fondness when I am old and gray, should the Lord see fit to grant it.  Right now - these are the moments I will cherish forever.  And I don’t want to lose them.  I don’t want to hoard them.  I want to share them, lest we forget the beauties of mommyhood while in the midst of the seemingly Unbeautiful: sickness, tantrums, burnt dinners, broken appliances…struggles like: WHEN will I ever get to take a shower again?...or: how am I going to find time to cook THIS recipe?...or: I need to go to the grocery store NOW and I don’t have a babysitter…(thank the Lord for helpful husbands who work near home!).  There are difficulties with being a stay-at-home mommy.  But there is so much beauty.  Endless beauty.  If only we can remember to look for it and cherish it, it will sanctify the moments of Non-beauty.

Will you join me as I speak of things beautiful, and share honestly the fact that sometimes things are Not So Beautiful?  But I want to cherish the many blessings the Lord has given, and I want to share that in some way that will last forever.  So I write, because by writing I can speak into the future…and future generations will be able to read my words long after I am gone.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am feeling poetic today.  If I manage to blog tomorrow, I may not wax so eloquently.  You may sigh with either disappointment or with relief – and I won’t blame you either way.

In other news, before I wrap up for now – I am attempting to cook delicious South Beach food for my husband right now.  I have a curious relationship with the kitchen.  I love cooking, and yet I continue to nurture a certain venomous hatred for it at the same time.  I struggle to make myself get into the kitchen and begin the process, because there is something about it that I dread – even though I love nothing so much as to set a plate of beautiful, delicious food before my husband and hear him be delighted by how good it is.  It’s even more satisfying when I also know that it is healthy.

I am planning to kill the venomous hatred for cooking that lurks deep within.  Because, actually, cooking is a beautiful way to serve others.  In it, art and science meet beautifully, if one can learn to master the science behind it.  Without the science of cooking, you can never master the art.  I am endeavoring to master the science, and so am devouring educational cooking shows (since going to culinary school is not exactly an option) and planning to dive into some educational books on cooking, as well.  I have already learned a great deal about techniques and science-of-cooking from the likes of Alton Brown and Nigella Lawson.  I hope to learn a great deal more, and in so doing, to take dominion of that kitchen and slay the hatred that wells up whenever I think of cooking.  I think the hatred is not so much for the cooking as it is for the clean-up that comes afterwards, in all honesty.  I have been cooking fairly well for years, but have never been able to fully and utterly ENJOY it – partly because of my dread of the mountain of mess that I have to clean afterwards, and partly because I have been blindly following directions from a cookbook with no earthly idea of what I am actually doing or WHY I should do it this way as opposed to another.  Consequently, when I make a mistake, I often have no idea what to do to correct it and have to give up and settle for a damaged dish, or start all over in the worst cases.

But I am learning, and freeing myself from the Bondage Of The Book.  Sometimes I get in the kitchen and cook a meal without ever cracking open a binding to check on a quantity of salt, and THAT is when I feel free.  Because I understand now what it takes to make a good chili without having to read up on it as I go, and without having to stop to consult the book and say, “Oh, no!  I forgot to add the can of tomatoes back in step 2.  Will it be ruined?  Now I must go find a can of tomatoes.  Oh – I don’t HAVE a can of tomatoes, because I used it in the spaghetti I just made and froze earlier.  NOW what?”  Because now I know.  And my pantry-inventory-keeping skills are improving, as well.  I think.  I have nearly learned how to make granola bars without a recipe, and I can make spaghetti sauce and chicken pot pie, as well.  Except for the crust of the pot pie…that I still have to consult a recipe for.  

I am also learning, thanks to my cooking shows, the concepts of “mise en place” – having everything ready in advance, rather than scrambling around chopping up carrots while the onions and celery is already nearly finished sautéing.  Oh, and did you know that that trio: onions, carrots, and celery, is called “mirepoix” and is the backbone of much French cooking?  Now I know.  If I want to make a good French dish, like beef bourguignon or coq au vin (neither or which are actually South Beach in their traditional forms) I can bet I’ll need those three ingredients.  It’s comforting to have these bits of information tucked away, ready to pull out.  I’m finding this cooking self-education I’ve embarked upon to be quite thrilling.  My husband isn’t complaining, either.  In fact, he’s loving it.  And encourages me even when things DON’T turn out the way I had hoped they would.  Which happens with a certain amount of regularity.  Sometimes dinner doesn’t happen at all:

“I’m very sorry, dear, but we will have to have leftovers tonight, because both babies cried all day and I eventually joined them and basically we didn’t get anything done besides cuddling and reading books because that seemed to be what was needed for some reason.”  He is a very gracious husband and not only understands, but says that is exactly what he would have wanted me to do when I have a day like that.  I am very blessed.  He is even gracious when the only thing I managed to get done was to get last night’s dishes clean and put away.  I at least try to have the kitchen clean and tidy, because that’s the first thing he’ll see when he comes in, and I should think that after a long day at work it would be nicer to walk into a nice, orderly room rather than to a scene of a great disaster. 

But sometimes, to be quite honest, even that doesn’t happen, because I’m still on the learning curve of figuring out how to manage things as a mommy of two under 1 ½.  I am very blessed to have a husband who knows I’m on a learning curve and knows that I WILL get better, but that there will be rough days here and there where it doesn’t all get done.  I am thankful for that, and you know what?  I think I’d better stop there because I’m about to wax eloquent about how amazing my husband is, but I think that he’d rather me just share that with him personally, rather than proclaim it to the world – or whoever’s reading.  I’ll just say I’m very blessed, and that he inspires me to be a better person, and I thank the Lord for him.  There.  I’ll move on now before I have to pull out the tissues.   

Anyway, all that to say: I am seeking to overcome my dread of cooking by educating myself so that I can understand it. And I had every intention of stopping this entry when it was 2 pages long, and now it’s over 3.  I’d better stop before I think of something else to say.  I have the perfect reason to stop, in fact:

One of the babies is hungry, and, come to think of it, so am I.  ;) 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Has It Been a Week Already???

I do apologize for my absence.  Things are ridiculously busy here with new-house-remodeling plans needing finalization and old-house-packing starting to become an Urgent Thing.  I am still learning this blogging thing.  I should get on an post something every day.  Even if it's not a full article.  Even if it's not stunningly well thought out and beautifully crafted in prose that will warm the hearts of all who read it.  Even if it's not the next installment of the courtship story (which has turned out to be in need of some editing - unfortunately, my Editor-in-Chief has been just a little too busy with remodeling plans, contractors, appliance decisions, and - oh, yeah - his job - and other things like playing with the adorable little girl that loves him so much...that he hasn't had lots of time left to go over his suggestions with me.  We'll hopefully get it done soon, though.  Hopefully.)

Have I mentioned that I'm a perfectionist?

I have?

I thought so.  I keep finding those tendencies showing up with remarkable vibrancy as they relate to my blogging habits.  Blogging has been good for me in many ways, and one of the biggest is that it shows me in Big Bold Letters just how much of a perfectionist I am.  I hadn't really even realized it.  So...I am working on it.  The fact that I am sitting here writing a pointless post like this proves that I'm working on it.

But it's not really pointless.  It's just being honest.  I don't have stunningly good excuses as to why I haven't posted anything on my blog in days.  Yes, we've been busy.  But if I hadn't been a perfectionist, I would have sat down and put up something.  A thought for the day.  A quote from the devotional I have that's full of paragraph-long thoughts from John Calvin.  Something to edify you.  Something to make you laugh, maybe, like the "How To Write Good" post from a couple of years back.  (Which, incidentally, is not by yours truly.  I stole it from somewhere else.)  Or even a photo of the day.  After all, if I don't have time to write a thousand words, I can just post the proverbial picture instead. 

Not that it takes me that long to get up to 1000 words if I just ramble long enough.  Kind of like I'm doing now.

Since I don't have time to craft more of an organized post than this, I will leave you with a recommendation.  If you have never heard of BBC's series: "Planet Earth" or "Life" I must urge you to look into them.  Especially "Planet Earth."  No, actually - especially "Life."  Never mind.  I can't choose one over the other.  They're just that good.

They each present life on this amazing planet in such stunning beauty that it leaves the viewer astounded.  The life stories of different kinds of animals - amazing facts about different creatures and plants, all done in the most beautiful videography I personally have ever seen.  Jon and I have learned so much about God's amazing Creation by watching these DVDs.  They are filled with fascinating, awe-inspiring inspiration that leaves us praising the Lord for the incredible richness and variety of His Creation.  If you think you understand how varied and creative this Creation is, think again if you haven't seen these DVDs.  There are so many creatures and plants out there that I had never even heard of - each of them doing what it was designed to do in some remarkably unique and creative way.  Monkeys that use rocks to break open nuts that no one else can get into.  Mountain goats who are born knowing how to scramble up sheer cliffs, leaving behind a hapless fox who thinks they'd make easy prey.  The self-sacrificial love of an octopus for her young.  The dedicated parenting of penguins - and not just the Emperor variety.  The love of a mother whale for her young.  The dances of the waterbirds.  The multi-generational migrations of the Monarch butterfly.  The trigger mechanism of a Venus flytrap.

The creativity is endless.  Of course.  Because it was all designed by an infinite God Who has given us only the smallest sampling of His endless creativity.  But it's still enough to blow our finite minds away.

My caveats:  the makers of the series are not coming from a Biblical worldview.  They sneak in some evolutionary theory amidst the glory of the Creation, and for that reason I would recommend against letting young children watch it alone.  Also, they present mating in a very matter-of-fact way - not very subtly at all.  Sometimes it's not even close to subtle.  I would recommend that parents preview episodes before showing them to younger children, if you are not ready for them to ask a host of Awkward Questions.  There are some very disturbing scenes of hunter and hunted - they are presenting life as it really happens in the wild, and that does - thanks to sin - involve a good deal of bloodshed.  I don't really enjoy watching lions rip into the flesh of a wildebeest, but that is how they have to stay alive.  There is DVD in particular in "Planet Earth" - the "Jungle" episode - which has a particularly unpleasant scene involving chimpanzees cannibalizing each other.  I had no idea they did that!  Exercise caution when showing to younger viewers.

However, for those who are ready to handle the more graphic scenes involving the impact that sin has had on Creation, and who are ready to handle the presentations of reproduction, it's an extremely educational and edifying watch.  Though not presented by Creationists, they can't help but use terms like "design" and "creation" simply because it is all so stunningly beautiful; so flawless; so perfectly choreographed.  If you want a glimpse of the Master Designer like you have never seen before, please look into these two series.  You will be awestruck and amazed by His Creation and marvel at His goodness in giving it to us.  He is truly majestic and high beyond all that we can even begin to imagine.  Though the makers of the series fail to give Him the glory, His handiwork speaks louder than anything they fail to say.  It is clear as you watch: there IS a Master Creator.

And we not only get to know that He is...but He has told us who He is.  We are beyond blessed.  Watch and worship.  His Creation declares His praise. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Marinated chicken with fresh herb olive oil

Bon appetit!

I'm finally posting the recipe that several of you requested!  I didn't make up the recipe myself - it came from a magazine I just picked up at Whole Foods the other day.  "Cuisine Tonight - For Two" is its name.  Lots of yummy, healthy-looking recipes in there.  The portions aren't nearly big enough for the two of us, though.  I mean, I AM in my 2nd trimester and all.  But that's easy enough to adjust.  ;)

Without further ado - le recipe:

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Marinated chicken with fresh herb olive oil

  • 2 bone-in chicken breast halves, seasoned with salt and black pepper (about 8 oz. each) - (Note: I used boneless and it worked just fine.  Easier to eat!)
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 grape or cherry tomatoes (I used many more than that.  I'm a tomato lover.)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic (again, I used a lot more.  But I'm a garlic loooooover.)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (it's very important to use fresh - makes all the difference.)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage (again, it's better when it's fresh!  If you don't want to use fresh, use only half as much of each herb - they're a lot more potent dried.)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
~ Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

~ Saute chicken, skin side down, in 2 tbsp oil in a large oven-proof skillet until golden, 4 minutes.  Turn chicken over, saute 2 minutes more, then transfer pan to the oven.  (This is a really cool technique - it gets nice and browned in the pan, and then it cooks all the way through without continuing to brown.  Result: really tender, juicy chicken.  I've got to remember this trick.)

~ Roast 15 minutes, then add tomatoes to the pan.  Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meat registers 165, about 5 minutes more.  (Or you could take the non-technological route and just cut a little slit in the chicken so you can peek in and see if it's done.  It's entirely up to you.)

~ Combine 1/4 cup oil, garlic, and herbs on a small serving platter, and season with sat and pepper.  Transfer chicken and tomatoes to the platter and let rest 10 minutes before serving, flipping the chicken every few minutes to coat with oil and herbs.

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Time for the side dish!

Roasted gold potatoes

  • 3/4 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, cut into large chunks (I used sweet potatoes since they have some more nutritional value - and my hubby loves them.) 
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
~ Preheat oven to 450 degrees

~ Toss potatoes in a large bowl with oil, and season with salt and pepper

~ Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high, then add potatoes and residual oil.

~ Saute potatoes until they start to brown, about 5 minutes.  Transfer skillet to the lowest rack of the oven and roast 20 minutes.  Stir, then roast until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes longer.  (With sweet potatoes, you might have to add an additional 10 minutes.  Just keep checking them.)

If you're interested, here's a video showing how to chop fresh rosemary


And here's a video showing how to chop fresh sage.  This video annoys me because it takes forever to show you anything.  But it's the only one I could find.  I used the technique that he shows first, because I think it looks prettier to have the longer strips of sage curling on top of your nicely browned chicken.  But that's just me. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Photo of the Day

Baby hands - soft and sweet - curious and captivating

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