Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Thanksgiving Post

Confession: Sometimes I live my life and think, "O, I've gotta blog about that." Or, on a more thoughtful day my mind wanders to something nearing almost-profound and I begin writing a blog post in my head. Sometimes I laugh at myself and the ridiculousness of it. Sometimes I condemn myself and wonder what mini-idol I'm erecting in my heart over this blog, and consider deleting it, and my Facebook account and avoiding all contact with people except those my life physically touches. Most times I just shake it off, and remind myself that this little blog is a memory-book of sorts. I hope it touches the lives of others, but it always serves as a reminder to me of everything we've been blessed with.

So, I was lying in bed Thanksgiving night thinking about what in the world I was going to blog about for Thanksgiving. A list of the things I'm thankful for seemed too generic. Besides, I don't think a simple list could cover all the things I am thankful for, and why- and the whys would take up far too much space. Then I thought just posting pictures of our weekend with Daniel's sister, Rebecca, her husband, Nathan, and baby Savannah would be simple and cute-- except besides Thanksgiving dinner I haven't taken any. I thought of forgetting the blog and just skipping over the holiday completely-- I've certainly done that with lots of other things before (e.g. my birthday, our honeymoon, veterans day, voting day).

And I'm just sitting here typing wondering what I'll end up doing. I still don't know.

I used to be such a thinker. I used to have deep, coherent conversations with friends about theology, and (some) philosophy, sociology. I used to argue more than was beneficial. I used to read a lot too, and find more arguments to challenge myself and others. I used to be a leader. Then, I ruined four great friendships, slipped into a shell and tried to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself for the next three years. If I opened up, you were trusted, and you were the few.

Time is the best medicine, most people say. Well, over time, I am still learning how to live a balanced life. In the fear of one extreme I jumped to another. Some of this was external, but most was internal. Isn't that so much like the human nature? In an attempt to free ourselves from the bondage of something, we run in the opposite direction and cling to whatever we find there. Is not every movement actually a counter-movement against a lifestyle that has gone too extreme? Think about what "way of life" you think is so important, and you can add in your own example.

I didn't gain anything, and ended up losing in the end when I was confidently over-opinionated. I really didn't gain all that much when I jumped to the other side, either. I actually think I missed out on a lot. Now I am having to relearn a lot of thoughts and skills I already knew. That's a loss, too. 

And now comes the part of my blog posts (the ones that don't ever get published) when I can't ever seem to complete my thoughts. When I never know what it was I was actually trying to say. When the words don't come to my mind, and my fingers sit idly waiting.


So, Reader, draw your own conclusion. We're all our own thinkers. I'm not only pushing for balance, because change and progress are important. Sometimes jumping from one extreme to another is the only way to make a point. So how about this: is the point you are making worth whatever you're going to lose? Because you will lose something.

I learned that it wasn't. Some of the things I said are important, even now, years later. Some are still hidden passions of mine. But I need to learn how to say them in a way that doesn't offend and ruin friendships. Until I can do that, they're not worth saying. To lose a thought, a word, a conversation is one thing, but to lose a relationship... 

When Michael was doing a class project a couple of weeks ago in preparation for Thanksgiving, he came home with a 6-year-old hand-shaped turkey with five finger feathers. The instructions were to list five of the things he was thankful for on each of those fingers. So I asked him, "What are you thankful for, Michael?" The first thing he said made me smile and giggle a little. It's obvious he's growing up in the 2000s.

"The earth."

"Ok, what next?"


"You mean your family? Mom, Daddy, Maura?"

"No. Just the people. All the people in the world. Because they're here."

So I wrote "People."

Good grief, he's right.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Newlywed Kitchen Happenings

Our progress through the Newlywed Kitchen has been rather slow in the last month. My blogging about it has been just as slow. Each of the new recipes we enjoyed, however, and I think we even found a new favorite.

Smoky-Sweet Corn Pudding

This dish was yummy. I think I'll need to give it another try or two to get it just right, but it was certainly easy and delicious.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
4 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup finely sliced leek, white and light green parts only
1 egg
1/2 cup half-and-half (I actually only used skim milk for this one, because that's all I had in the house. I do think the pudding would be better with the half and half. :))
1 Tablespoon melted butter
3 teaspoons flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper
1 1/4 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen is fine-- I used frozensince October wasn't exactly sweet corn season, even in the south)
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika  

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook til crisp. Set aside, then crumble. Add leeks and saute until they soften and begin to brown-- about two minutes. Set aside.
3. Whisk together the egg and half-and-half. Stir in butter, flour, salt, pepper, paprika and corn. Add cooked bacon and leeks. -- The book even suggested adding a tablespoon of the bacon drippings to make the pudding more decadent. I didn't try it. :-S 
4. Add the mixture into individual ramekins and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pudding is slightly puffy. Cool slightly, then serve.

We enjoyed the corn pudding with a real, solid porterhouse steak. It was so good we couldn't believe I made it. :-P I loved that the steak was coated it garlic and thyme, and moistened with olive oil.

One large, thick porterhouse steak. (The book suggests 2 1/2 pounds. I think ours was only around a pound and a half-- go for whatever your appetite permits.)
1 T salt (next time I am going to use less- it overpowered the rest of the seasoning sometimes)
1 t black pepper
1 T chopped thyme (I used dry, still delicious)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Top steak with all ingredients and then rub into and around the entire steak. Place the steak in a deep dish, cover in the olive oil and marinate for an hour.
2. Grill the steak for about 5-7 minutes each side. The meat will continue cooking even after it's off the heat, so don't overcook it. Let sit for a few minutes, then serve.

The Sweet-and-Hot Chicken Kebabs are our new favorite. This meal was a breeze to prepare, and was so light and delicious that I can't wait to make and eat it again!

3 T honey
3 T Olive Oil
2 T Dry White Wine (I can't buy it, so I don't use it-- I used white wine vinegar, it was the "closest" I had. Ha.)
3/4 t salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used half a lemon)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 T chopped fresh parsley (O, yum. I probably used half a cup)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
colorful vegetables or fruits of your choice-- peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, etc.

In a large bowl mix together all the of ingredients except the chicken and vegetables. Add the chicken, then refrigerate for several hours, or over night. Add the vegetables for the last half hour.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. (We're not allowed to grill, so for me this meant preheating the oven to 350 and greasing a cooking sheet)

Thread the chicken and vegetables unto skewers, then grill until chicken is cooked through.

We ate this with pasta. Next time I want to make more of the marinade so that we have a sauce to enjoy, too.

With the above recipe I also made the Zucchini Fritters.  Even my vegetable-shy husband enjoyed them. I had the left overs this morning for breakfast. :)

3 cups grated zucchini, with or without skin
1/2 t salt
2 gloves of garlic, finely minced
1 egg
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 up fresh, grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup flour
3 T olive oil

1.Combine zucchini and salt in sieve and position over a large bowl and squeeze the water out with your hands. (The book says you should be able to remove about a 1/2 cup of water. I didn't get as much, but I still think they taste fine.)
2. Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl and add the garlic, egg, pepper, Parmesan and flour. Stir well.
3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls unto skillet and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes each side.

The book recommends a tangy yogurt sauce to accompany these, which I think sounds delicious, but didn't make. It is super easy, and I would love to hear how it actually is.

Mix together 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Dip and enjoy!

I was so glad that many of the recipes we were coming to were less involved and a bit of a lighter fare. After 4 cheese macaroni and twice baked spicy wings, these recipes were easy and healthy!

Monday, November 15, 2010


I came home singing about grace. It was in my heart, and sprang unto my lips. My husband is always quick to criticize my singing, and though I pretend to be hurt, I know it is with good reason that he laughs at me.

Martin Luther penned these words. They are powerful in and of themselves, but keep in mind Luther's history. He was a catholic monk whose life was transformed by six small words, "The just shall live by faith." Nearly overnight his outlook on religion and theology was transformed, and the Holy Spirit revealed to him the freedom received in and through-- merited not by anything of his own doing, but wholly on the grace of God given through the gift of faith.
(This is the more modern translation on the hymn... I'm not sure which I prefer.)

Out of the depths I cry to You,
Lord, hear my voice of pleading;
Bend down Your gracious ear, I pray,
Your humble servant heeding.
If You remember each misdeed,
And of each thought and word take heed,
Who can remain before You?
Only by grace, by grace alone.

Your pardon is a gift of love,
Your grace alone must save us,
Our works will not remove our guilt,
The strictest life would fail us.
Let none in deeds or merits boast,
But let us own the Holy Ghost
for He alone can change us:
Only by grace, by grace alone.

Though great our sins and sore our woes
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our kind and faithful Shepherd He,
Who will set all His people free
From all their sin and sorrow:
Only by grace, by grace alone.

I have so much more to say about this. The Lord has taught me so much  about grace in the last couple of years-- not that I am any expert for it, of course. But I'll have to save that for another time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sick? Sick.

My husband is never sick. In the two years that I've known him he's only been sick twice. Never had a cold, never had strep throat, never had backaches, neck aches or headaches, much less migraines (he did have a migraine once, actually). He's never nauseated, or dizzy, or feels achy. Everything that I complain about on a weekly basis, he can only laugh and tease me about. I also like to complain about how we need to eat less sugar and drink our green smoothies and drink more water, etc, etc, etc because junk is "so bad!" for our bodies, and he grins ridiculously and points out for all my healthy eating and exercising, I sure am sick a lot more than he is. Well humph.

The two times that I did know him to be sick were when he had the stomach flu.

Today makes a third.

But this is just dreadful, because my poor husband is sick with the flu in *an airport*. Not just any airport though. Want to take a guess which one? Yes, very good. Atlanta.

I'm praying he can get an earlier flight and not have to sit there all afternoon. I'm praying his stomach will hold up the rest of the day, and the next flight. Poor, poor baby! I asked him what I could make him for dinner (it's been five days since we've seen each other, and I was thinking a nice, quiet evening together would be nice) and he told me toast... and applesauce.

So now I need to go conspire a plan to make our little home as welcoming as possible for a rather sick husband....

Because as some of you might remember, he took awfully good care of me back in March when I came down with the flu.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our Sweet Little Neice

Daniel and I got to meet our sweet little niece, Savannah, for the first time last Friday. She's nearly five months old now, and so, so precious. Daniel was just tickled with her, and loved how we could already observe her own personality. He even learned to translate her cries a bit. He would sarcastically joke to the family, "Keep the baby away from Ashlee. She'll get ideas." but then as we would fall asleep at night he would sigh, "Savannah is just so cute. I can't wait til we have a baby, too."
She was such a good little girl all weekend-- Stayed on her schedule, let everyone hold her, and smiled lots and lots. We can't wait to see her again for Thanksgiving. Daniel's already planning on sneaking her pumpkin pie. ;-)

So sweet. <3

Uncle Danny loves his niece

Her Profile is just like Daniel's was when he was a baby.

Granddaddy holding his 3rd Great-grandchild

Big, wide eyes!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God of All Comfort

This new experience has been awful, but the evident hand of the Lord at work has brought a lot of comfort, and at times, even joy.


How He knew we would need a bubbling, smiling, cooing almost-five-month-old baby girl to brighten all our spirits.

Or How He provided more food than we ever thought could be consumed in a weekend, but actually ended up being eaten because of all the extended family that came to surround us, and especially Daniel's mom.

How when everything was over we realized *hundreds* of Christians were praying for the spiritual and physical health of Daniel's father. What a witness!

Or how we thought the visitation and funeral were going to be difficult (they still were), but they ended up being even more of a blessing because of the overwhelming amount of people that came full of stories and comments about Ralph, his life, and all he meant to them. Wonderful, precious comments, hilarious stories, touching memories. Everything you could think of.

How He kept the weekend interesting with Granddaddy's infamous trip up from Panama City, complete with running out of gas, getting a speeding ticket, and arriving with white fuzz because he had packed the wrong razor!

How He reminded us of His love through Daniel's cousin Brian's unabashed, honest expression of love to his Aunt Janet, and his sweet good-bye to Uncle Ralph at the visitation, complete with a pat on Ralph's chest and a kiss on his forehead.

Even the obvious fact that Daniel is in seminary has been a blessing. He's been able to take off of classes and work with ease, and little after-effect, which in turn has allowed him to visit his father in the hospital, and now spend time with his mom (and sister), while cleaning around the house.

I am sure there were many other things I simply can't think of now, or didn't notice, but as I sit here in bed, alone, and reflect on the weekend's events I am overwhelmed by God's provision and goodness.

 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saying Goodbye...

Ironic, I write about darkness before light, and four days later a darkness neither of us have ever experienced slips into our life.

After three weeks of struggling in the hospital, and complication after complication, Daniel's father passed away Thursday evening. Daniel was able to be at his father's bedside, next to his mother and sister, and they are all thankful they could say good-bye in such a quiet, intimate way. Yet, there is still much sadness.

There are now a lot of firsts, that none of us were prepared for. This morning as we were waking up Daniel whispered, "My first weekend of football without my dad." They loved sports. They loved enjoying sports together.

We watched old family videos last night, which did help lighten everyone's spirits as we laughed hilariously at the style of the late 80s, early 90s, and the lack of athletic prowness eight-year-old Daniel displayed when he attempted to kick a football one Christmas morning.

Still even this morning, Daniel went to borrow a pair of socks from his dad, and couldn't help but tear up. They were socks he would never wear again.

The final-ness of death cuts so sharply. During one of our pre-marital counseling sessions one of our pastors told us that some day we would have to help the other bury our parents. Neither of us ever thought it would be so soon. We ache for the life that is now absent-- a life, even, that still seemed to have years to live. For the wife that is left without a husband, for the son who no longer has a father, and the daughter without a daddy. For the beautiful, happy granddaughter who only knew her grandpa as a newborn, and all the others who will never know him. We ache with the memories that are left, and the memories he will not be a physical part of.