Thursday, August 25, 2011

Home Coming

Last Friday, my dear friend Liz went home to be with Jesus. Today was her funeral. I thought I was going to be okay, I really was, until I saw her body in the casket.

She was dressed in white, like a wedding: her cancer-shaved head covered in her favorite wig; her makeup flawless; her jewelry glowed. She had an embroidered handkerchief tucked in her hands. You could not tell she had ever undergone years of cancer and chemotherapy and radiation and surgery.

But that was not Liz. That was a waxwork, a shell, a husk of the woman I loved so dearly. And I cried because it was at that moment I realized she was really gone. No more watching hockey games with my grandma. No more Olive Garden lunches after church. No more seeing her rejoicing Sunday mornings, radiant in a pink dress with fabulous jewelry. No more hearing Liz talk about Jesus. No more hearing her pray. My sister was gone. And I went and cried on Mum's shoulder and tried to carry on.

The service was lovely. Many friends came up to talk about Liz's strength, her infectious joy, her love of life and living, her infatuation with Jesus. Pastor Phil gave a beautiful gospel centered homily, reminding us all 1) Liz lived and died in the arms of Jesus 2) our hope is her hope 3) there is salvation for all who believe. I had long been praying that Jesus would be evident in Liz's funeral and I know for a fact that He was.

They showed a video that one of the young men had put together in the spring about Liz's walk through the trial of cancer. And there she was! Her voice and face and mannerisms and story alive for all to see. And I cried more realizing that this was the last time I would see my friend. But oh! What a way to remember her. She described how she hung on God through her cancer and how He carried her over the River Jordan. How could I be so sad? Liz was finally where she had longed to be.

When she was ill, two weeks ago, I brought her a copy of a prayer from the Valley of Vision to encourage her. Pastor Daniel even read it at her grave site! I wanted it to help Liz; God used it today to help me.

Its called "Heaven and Earth"

O Lord,
I live here as a fish in a vessel of water,
      only enough to keep me alive,
But in heaven I shall swim in the ocean.

Here I have a little air in me to keep me breathing,
But there I shall have sweet and fresh gales;

Here I have a beam of sun to lighten my darkness,
   a warm ray to keep me from freezing;
Yonder I shall live in light and warmth for ever.

Here I can have the world,
There I shall have thee in Christ;

Here is a life of longing and prayer,
There is assurance without suspicion,
     asking without refusal;

Here are gross comforts, more burden
     than benefit,
There is joy without sorrow,
     comfort without suffering,
     love without inconstancy,
     rest without weariness.

Give me to know that heaven is all love,
   where the eye affects the heart,
     and the continual viewing of thy beauty
     keeps the soul in continual transports
        of delight.

Give me to know that heaven is all peace,
   where error, pride, rebellion, passion
     raise no head.

Give me to know that heaven is all joy,
   the end of believing, fasting, praying,
     mourning, humbling, watching,
        fearing, repining;

And lead me to it soon.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pins and Needles

So I finally caved and got on Pinterest.  Jamie convinced me to do it and now that I'm on, I must say that it is quite addictive.  'Cause I don't have enough to do with my free time, right?  RIGHT?

But I do understand her reasoning.  Jamie says she uses it as an online recipe catalogue which is BRILLIANT! because I can't remember the number of times that I've been flipping through a magazine or a cookbook for that *one* recipe that I can't seem to find.  But keeping all the pictures of different foods in one place online?  Like I said, Brilliant.

And now I am an avid Pinner.  (Is that what we're called?  Pinners?  I like getting terminology right.  Like Browncoats and Trekkies and Patients (NOT Whovians, because that sounds like a Dr. Seuss species) I guess I shall call myself a Pinner until I am informed otherwise.  Hope that doesn't step on anybody's toes) 

Anyway, it's fun.  I've already found a SUPER cool/cute dress that I really want to make, and I think I know how to make it.  Hoping I can get some sewing money for my birthday.  *Hopes*

in other news, I've totally stressed my carpel tunnel syndrome from knitting a shrug.  But it was worth it because I knit a shrug!!!  And it fits!!!  *confetti explosion*  I just have one thing to fix on it (collar problems) and then I shall post a tutorial (maybe) here.  But I have to wait for my wrists to calm down before finishing.  And I'm probably not helping by typing all this out.........*logging off*

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spicy Peanut Thai Noodles

I have decided that I am going to expand my knowledge of cooking Asian food beyond stir-fry and fried rice. The problem is that most Asian food requires special ingredients or equipment that is 1) not in my budget and 2) not in my pantry.  Especially when I'm hungry.  Especially when I'm hungry RIGHT. NOW

Which is why, when I stumbled across this recipe in a cooking magazine, I thought YAY! Food that I can prepare quickly and without having to make a pilgrimage to the Grand Asian Market and without having to need extra ingredients.

Now, a warning, dearest readers, DO NOT FOLLOW THESE STEPS EXACTLY! because, as I shall point out here and again and again, I made this extremely too spicy.

You will need: noodles, meat (or not), a little olive oil, water, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, hot sauce, and onions.

1) Begin by boiling some noodles.  These can be spaghetti, linguine, angel hair, or Ramen (poor college and ex-college students rejoice!).  You want the noodles to be DONE by the time your sauce is finished.  (Guess who's noodles got boiled too late and had to let the sauce sit there slowly getting cold until the noodles were ready?) 

2) In a separate sauce pan, cook your meat.  I used Kroger's Hot Italian Sausage, sliced into medallions.  [HERE is where I went wrong with making this too spicy.  Hot Italian Sausage is extremely Hot (and that has nothing to do with 104 degree August days).  If you intend to use a hot or spicy sausage, YOU NEED TO TONE DOWN THE AMOUNT OF HOT SAUCE YOU PUT INTO THE PEANUT SAUCE!!! A milder sausage (like a bratwurst, mild or sweet italian, breakfast sausage, kilbasa, etc) would need more hot sauce for kick]  You also can use beef, chicken, pork loin, pork chops, or no meat at all.  Add a little oil to the bottom of your pan to keep the meat from sticking.  But if you develop a layer of BCB's (Burned Crunchy Bits, for you poor non Pratchett fans), that's okay too because...

4) Deglaze your pan.  Remove the meat and pour 1/4 cup of tap water into the bottom of the pan.  This will loosen all the tasty gooey juices from the bottom and form a nice base for your sauce.  You do NOT want to use ice water, that will warp your pan.  You should get a rapid boil-y brownish goo bubbling up from the bottom.  Add another 1/4 cup of water to thin this out. 

5) Add 1 TBSP soy sauce, 2-3TBSP creamy peanut butter, 2-3 TBSP honey, 1 TBSP (or clove) minced garlic, and hot sauce to taste (GUESS WHO ADDED TOO MUCH HOT SAUCE?!?).  Mix until the peanut butter is no longer a nasty globby mess but nicely smooth in the sauce.  Taste the sauce.  You should get a slight tang of sweet and salty on the tip of your tongue, followed by a rich earthy flavor as you swallow, followed by a bite of heat when you inhale.  If you have added too much hot sauce (LIKE ME!!!!) add some more honey to mellow it.  And serve with LOTS of water. 

6) Drain your noodles and add the sauce.  Mix thoroughly.  Serve hot (temperature wise) with a garnish of raw sweet or green onion and crushed peanuts if you have them. 

YUM! Tasty. 

Unless you burned your tastebuds off like certain cooks on this blog did.  Good thing J likes spicy food.  *love to my long suffering husband*

Friday, August 19, 2011

Going home

My dear friend Liz has just passed away from this life of sin and pain and the Lord has been kind in weaning me off of her. Where just a week ago, I was clinging desperately to the hope that God would fully heal her on this earth, I have learned that it is a far far better thing to be healed in and through heaven.

Her work is done. Her reward is being realized. Her faith is being made sight. She is home, truly home, for the first time in her life.

To paraphrase a passage from Hebrews 11: Liz died in faith, not having fully received the things promised, her final salvation, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that she was a stranger and exile on this earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. For if Liz had been thinking of that land from which she had gone out, she would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, she desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called her God, for He has prepared for her a city.

And while I stand on this side Of the River Jordan, watching her go to Canaan's fair and happy land, my heart is sorrowful. First because there is a long separation on this side and second because I cannot travel there with her as she goes. Like Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress, we all must cross that final river alone. But not alone. For God Himself has gone before us into death and into resurrection to prepare a place for each of us who put our hope in Jesus.

And my heart is also joyful for those exact same reasons. Liz is seeing Jesus, no longer greeting Him from afar as an exile but running into His arms as a beloved child come home. Oh how can a heart be filled with such joy and such sorrow all at once? How can I want her here and there at the same time? How can I so selfishly desire her to stay with me when God calls her home? How long, oh Lord, before it is my turn?

"Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed. The victory is won; He is risen from the dead. And we will rise when He calls our names no more sorrow no more shame we will rise on eagles wings before our God fall on our knees and rise. We will rise." ~ Chris Tomlin

Oh Lord, give me the joy of Heaven and the knowledge that my sister is released and truly alive. Let my sorrow turn away and help me to endure until the day that you call me home. Amen

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

These are the Voyages of the Starship Enterprise

I love Star Trek.

I love the hokey plots, the over-dramatic music, the horrid special effects, the laughable acting, the silly costumes, the obviously-ripped-straight-from-a-Christmas-tree props, and the wonderful iconic characters.

I love McCoy's humanity and the high regard he holds for his culture and his people. I love how beligerant and in-your-face he gets when the emotional toll is ignored, when the weak are abused, when he has to protect someone, even when he can't.

I love Scotty's can do attitude. There is no problem in the universe that canna be solved with a wee dram o' scotch and utterly reversing the laws of physics.

I love Spock's verbal wit and mental aptitude and how, regardless of how much the good doctor needles him about it, Spock shows more courage, valor, hope, and strength than any other crewman aboard the Enterprise.

I love Jim Kirk. I love that he stands for a universal standard of justice. His "No I don't care what your local tribal customs, deities, laws, or plans say, there are some things that you simply DON'T do and we are going to stop you from doing them!" attitude.  I love that he will listen to his advisers but he does not shirk the mantle of command and he will even go against Starfleet if he believes he is in the right.

I love the friendship and courage and respect for life and acknowledgment of evil and the understanding of making and fixing a mistake that these men display show after show. I love that regardless of how bad it might get, Kirk and Spock and McCoy will save the day and we will have a funny haha moment at the end (usually at Spock's expense) and all will be well.

Most of all I love how imaginative this show is. There is no limit to where hard work and a little luck will get you. Technology may save the day sometimes but men's minds usually prevail. There are a thousand thousand different worlds and situations and places and peoples that are just waking to be seen and we can know them and they can know us. There are things we can build that will make our world a better place and things that will make it horrible. There is hope that we can boldly go where no man has gone before but what we find there will be the same truth we have inside us. That there are some things worth standing for and there are many things that must be fought against. That friends come in all shapes and sizes and colors and ear styles. That it is always good to end with a laugh.

I love Star Trek.

Oh, and how can you NOT resist Spock-with-a-beard?  I mean come on:


Monday, August 8, 2011

Tis a Far Far Better Place...

I've been thinking a lot about heaven lately. Mostly because my dear friend Liz is dying. She has late stage aggressive abdominal cancer hat has been slowly killing her for a long time bu it is in the past few weeks that it has gotten much much worse. Her doctors have taken her off her chemotherapy, she's been moved to a hospice facility, her digestive system is so crushed by the cancer that she can no longer get any nutrition from her food. And she is rapidly deteriorating. Her health and strength and vitality and endurance are gone. But what is intact is her joy.

From the beginning of her battle with cancer, Liz has never wavered from the firm belief that either God will heal her so she can testify to His grace or He will take her from this earth so she can testify to His grace. This solid truth and faith in the Sovereign Creator King has sustained her through long years of chemotherapy and discovering that the cancer came back when it seemed in remission. And now, staring into the face of death itself, Liz is still filled with Joy. The joy of knowing that one day, she is going to close her eyes to a world of sin and death and decay and open them to the face of her savior. Heaven is so close for Liz and I am so so so so glad that she is finally going home, finally free of pain. Finally able to see the face of her God who saved her and sustained her in the dark hours and the bright one.

But it is hard to let her go.

Liz is my dear friend, my sister in Christ, a prayer warrior, a saint of God, a faith filled woman, an encourager, a charismatic worshiped who, like David, does not fear the opinions of men when it comes to how she expresses her joy in Jesus. Liz is precious to me, to my Grandma (who is her bestie), to our church where she has served so long. It is hard to let her go.

And so I think of heaven.

"13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

Paul writes to the Thessalonians to help them understand the nature of death for the Christian. It is NOT death to die. We lose this decaying body and gain one of immortality. We leave this world of sin and go to Jesus. We no longer experience pain or sickness or sorrow or fear or sin or death. All longing is satiated, all praying answered, all tears wiped away, all hoping realized, all believing established, all faith vindicated. And we will be with Jesus. Forever.

Liz is not going to die. Her cancer will die. Her sin wil die. Her body will die. But who she is in Jesus Christ will never die. Because the Lord of all creation entered into what he had made and took upon his innocent self the guilt of every rebellious human and carried it to the grave, because God looked upon the sacrifice of a sinless substitute and accepted His death in exchange for ours, because Jesus conquered death and extended his earned righteousness and covering atonement to those who cling to him, because of Jesus, Liz will never taste death. And neither will I. And neither will anyone who puts their faith in Jesus as the only way to God. And we will always be with the Lord in a place purified of sin and all it's fruits. In a place called heaven.

Iced Coffee

I must admit that one of the rings I like least about summer is the fact that it is too hot to drink my regular coffee, hot and strong and very very black. So I began to experiment with ways to make iced coffee.

First I tried to make coffee ice cubes which could be blended into a cold frappethingy. The problems are that 1) the ice never blended smooth 2) I had to add sugar and milk and chocolate syrup and yogurt and ice-cream to my should-only-be-black-coffee and 3) I had to clean the blender.

Then I tried brewing coffee normally the night before and letting it sit out to cool off and adding milk and ice. The problem with that was that the coffee was SUPER watered down and Blech and was also kinda bitter. Grrrrrr

So I went on a hunt for the perfect iced coffee recipe. Pioneer Woman had a delicious looking recipe for a cold brew coffee base. But it required 1lb of coffee grounds and two huge containers and cheesecloth to line a strainer with and ALL I WANT IS SOME COFFEE GRRR!!!!!!!

So then I went to the googles and the googles sent me to Small Notebook who recommended the following recipe. Take 1/4 cup of grounds and place in the bottom of a French press. Add 1 cup of water. Soak the grounds for 10-12 hours. Then add another cup of water. Stir and strain. Pour the coffee syrup into a container to use for later.

Then I add equal parts milk and coffee syrup over ice. The result is a cold rich creamy strong coffee flavor without the bitterness and refrigerating both the milk and coffee keeps the ice from melting a lot when it is all stirred together.

I love this recipe because of the easy ratio of 1:8 cups coffee to water. Having a French press was a bonus but the website gives modifications of using a glass bowl and a fine mesh strainer or pouring it through three or four paper coffee filters. Really easy way to make summer mornings enjoyable again. In fact, I think I may go get another one...

Sunday, August 7, 2011


There is something incredibly comforting about sandwiches. Bread. Meat. Cheese. Veggies. Dressing. Hot. Cold. Whatever. However.

Love me a sammich.

So does Arthur. I heartily agree.

Ps. Sheldon comics (above) is HI-larious and clean and wonderful.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fairy Godmother

My bestest best friend in the whole wide world just had her firstborn nigh on a fortnight ago. I am now a fairy godmother and if anybody calls me "auntie" I shall attack them with a wooden pallet. Auntie has a burned in connection to Wicked Aunt Weeza from Steel Magnolias (you have permission to go watch that scene from youtube, I'll wait) and I refuse to be like that. I would much rather be the Good Fairy Clarice but that's too long a moniker and I am NO Clarice.

Anyway little Zee (my godson) is just the most precious thing ever even though he has loud farts and threw up on me and went spastic a few times while I was holding him and would flail about and wake himself up when he was supposed to be napping but I shall endeavor to help him grow out of this popcorn like explosion. And PG (my bestest best friend in the whole wide world) is just the most natural mom. She is so sweet when she's holding little Zee. Squeeeeee!!!

I had a geat time up there getting to know Zee and helping PG.

Now I need to go knit little blue booties...