Thursday, August 31, 2006

Branching Out Again: FOOD!

I made Chicken Picadillo from a recipe I got from Cooking Light the other day. More on that in a minute.

*Shameless Plug for Cooking Light*
If I could buy a magazine for every newlywed, it might be this one. Especially newlyweds who, like me, had a rather limited repertoire of dishes at which he or she is an expert. (Mine consisted of Pop Tarts, spaghetti--I was proud of that one--a mean batch of brownies from a mix, and Lean Cuisine pizzas.)

Enter Cooking Light. And no, I'm not on their payroll (though if they'd like to give me a free lifetime subscription, I am all ears.) I would really say that this magazine taught me to cook; I blossomed, in about a year, from Pop Tart Queen to Ardent Recipe Disciple. Now that's progress!

CL just draws you into becoming a foodie. As you experience new tastes and aromas, and as you see how wonderfully one spice or dish can complement another, you join the ranks of folks who are no longer just diners: they're Epicureans (not in the sense of 'devoted to sensual pleasure', but in the sense of 'one with sensitive and discriminating tastes, especially in food or wine').

One of my favorite CL features is their travel section, in which the writer details a trip you could take, giving dining and sightseeing suggestions for your itinerary. The photography and reviews make you feel as though you have a real sense of the place, the community, being described.


I made Chicken Picadillo (except that mine was turkey). Here's the recipe, but you can also find it here.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast [I used lean turkey]
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup bottled salsa
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)

Place chicken in a food processor; pulse until ground. [That's for the birds! Buy it ground and save yourself time!]
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken, cumin, salt, cinnamon, and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Stir in salsa and raisins. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in almonds and cilantro. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

CALORIES 257(26% from fat); FAT 7.5g (sat 1g,mono 4.2g,poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 29.6g; CHOLESTEROL 66mg; CALCIUM 74mg; SODIUM 762mg; FIBER 3.2g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 19g
Here's the review I wrote for the website:

"This was simply of my favorite recipes, ever. I made it with ground turkey and upped the amount of raisins and almonds. The cinnamon is a KEY ingredient and lends excellent flavor! I served the dish over brown rice with garbanzo and black beans, with a generous dollop or two of reduced-fat sour cream. My husband asked me to double the recipe next time so we'll have tons of leftovers! Very easy to reheat."

Let me reiterate that part about the sour cream. USE LOTS. MMMMMM.

Anyone think this would work with beef? I'd like to make it for my mom and dad, but dad has some kind of poultry grudge.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It Can Make All the Difference

How you say something can matter as much, or more, than what you say.

Take, as a case in point, the couple who is trying to conceive. One of my dearest friends, Katie, has started her blog, and one of her first posts, Where is Baby #2?, hits the nail on the head.

It's so painful to want a baby and not have one. Period. I don't care if you have five children or none, an ache is present in the heart of a couple who hasn't conceived when they wished. With that ache, though, can come valuable growth and lessons from the Lord, which Katie expounds upon.

I was thinking, though, after she and I talked on the phone last evening, that people don't think much about asking these questions that cause pain; they mean to be conversational:

"So, when are you guys going to have kids?"

As though we can snap our fingers and--*POOF!*--a child is born! But for so many people who conceive easily, or seemingly at will, it's not an inane question. If people perceive it's been too long and a baby SHOULD BE on the WAY BY NOW, woe to the couple who is bombarded with well-intentioned but increasingly nosy questions! And if you already have a child, everyone assumes you are putting off having another one on purpose.

"When are you giving Johnny a brother or sister?"
"I heard that only children ________________________!" (can't share, are selfish, freak out when their mothers are two feet away, grow up to kill people...)

And Kate's favorite,

"Where is Baby Number Two?"

What is the proper answer to that query? (Multiple choice test!)

A. "Um, I don't know, maybe I left him at Wal-Mart."

B. "Did she roll under the sofa again?"

C. NO WAY! I had a KID? COOL! Tell me all about it!


I kind of like "C." "D" is tempting, but too manic.

My point, before I got lost in my own snarkiness and sarcasm, was that the subject isn't a forbidden one, but like all personal issues, it should be couched in genuine love for the human being you're addressing, and consideration for circumstances you may not have considered.

Don't assume that everyone can conceive when they feel like it. "When are you having another one?" should be banished, verboten verbage. I wouldn't even bring it up unless the person was a good friend--and if she was, I might ask gently in an intimate moment of sharing, "Do you and (husband) want any more children?" Give her the opportunity to tell you what she's feeling without being made to feel like there's a deadline she hasn't met or a general expectation she hasn't fulfilled.

And give Kate's post a look. It's filled with wisdom and confidence in the Lord that I find really refreshing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Some Posts of Interest

I would hate for anyone to miss Rachel's incredible series at Home Works Best. She reviews a book I've never read, Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin. A cautionary note was always struck in my heart when I read/heard about that book. Rachel's posts are well worth checking out:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

In other news, everyone's favorite Molly and the talented Blest with Sons have thought-provoking posts about discernment: sometimes, what you think is exactly right, ain't. Oh, how we need the Holy Spirit to help us know when to shut up, when to warn, when to wait, and when to rethink our own perspectives! There's a time for ALL of those things, and more, but it takes discernment (har!) to know when to exercise which action. You all KNOW that I heartily believe in calling a spade a spade--not calling that which is evil, 'good', and that which is good, 'evil.' But with that responsibility comes a temptation to judge unrighteously. Boy, God doesn't like that a whole lot.

Dave Black included this picture in one of his recent posts, and it stole my heart and went straight to my desktop wallpaper.

Dave writes,

We've had lots of interest in our Bible memory program in Ethiopia, and some of you have asked us for the specific passages a person has to memorize before he or she can get a Bible in Amharic. Here they are: Psalms 1 and 23 (whole chapters), 1 Corinthians 13 (whole chapter), John 3:1-21, John 14:1-21, Romans 8:28-39, James 1:2-6, and 12-25, and Philippians 4:4-8. How many have completed the program, you ask? Between August and December, 2005, in the Burji district alone 800 young people (between age 7 and 18) completed it; then we opened the program to include adults and set a deadline of Sept. 10, 2006 (which is the end of their calendar year). We were told in May that 1,132 had completed it by then. We're expecting between 2000 and 2500 will have completed it by the September deadline. Each person is required to recite the verses to a church elder. In the Alaba District the numbers are much smaller because the Christian population is much smaller; this area is 99 percent Muslim, and especially the rural congregations are under severe persecution. Recently the church has had to take some of the young people who have come to Christ and put them into hiding to prevent their being murdered (as other young people have already been), so the situation is serious. For this reason, we have extended the deadline for the rural areas to Sept. 10, 2007. So far, we have distributed 450 in the Alaba district. It is a great joy to see these young people when they receive their very own Bibles.

Lord, I never want to take your Word, or my freedom, for granted.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Small Rant about Housing

We interrupt our regularly scheduled baby updates and exegesis to bring you this

My father's an economist by education and was an Auditor for the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office, a much more accurate name) by trade, so you'll have to excuse me if I get a little amped about things like this.

Markets go up and come down with regularity. It's to be expected. Housing is no different, and just because some bubbles are bursting around the country, it doesn't mean the sky is falling. Please, don't descend into your bomb shelter just yet.

Try telling that to Avery Shenfeld and some other Chicken Littles of the financial world (link):

July home sales will be the chief focus of the markets, and the news probably won't be very encouraging. "The upcoming week will be a reminder that all's not well in the USA," said Avery Shenfeld, senior economist for CIBC World Markets.

Stu Hoffman, chief economist at PNC, says the housing data will be "ugly."

The slump in housing "has gained momentum in the past few months," said Mickey Levy, chief economist for Bank of America.

Sales of new homes are projected to fall about 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.10 million in July. The data will be released on Thursday. Except for February, when the weather didn't cooperate, 1.10 million would be the lowest sales rate in two years.

Um, let me get this straight. Because we're entering a totally normal, cyclical time of correction in the housing market, "all is not well in the USA?" Do we constantly have to GROW GROW GROW and BUY BUY BUY (or in this case, SELL SELL SELL) for things to be going well?

As for me and my house, boy howdy, we thought that $800,000 (on the low end) for a 3bd/2ba in California's Ventura County was just a bit steep. Funny that a few markets that are relatively reasonable, like Atlanta's, have still been seeing growth.

At least there are some voices of reason:

Nearly everyone agrees that housing is slowing. The debate is over how far housing will fall and what the impact the decline will have on the economy.
Some economists say housing won't fall too much further. "We look for evidence of a correction, not a collapse, in the housing market," said Drew Matus, an economist for Lehman Bros.

Thank you, Drew! Someone who isn't just looking for a headline!

The main concern is that consumer spending has been strong in the past few years only because of the gains in the housing market. Once wealth stops growing, consumer spending could slow sharply. And since consumer spending is about two-thirds of final sales, it'd be hard for the U.S. economy to boom without consumers.

Gee, somehow I don't think the US is going to have a dearth of consumers anytime soon. Could be just me.

Seriously, I know that consumer confidence can affect the economy, blah blah blah. But barring some horrible terrorist attack on American soil, I don't foresee the sky crumbling around our ears anytime soon. The housing market was due, I'd even argue overdue, for a correction, and here it is. No big whoop (except for those poor souls who overpaid for their houses and now may suffer loss as they try to sell in a falling market. That is not fun).

Can I have my honorary economics degree now? ...Hello?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Perfect for a Blogger...

...especially a dorky one like me! (I lifted this from Valerie, who, incidentally, had the same top "major" as I.) Perfect for a blogger that English and Journalism tied, eh?

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major?
created with

Eternal Life and the Supremacy of Jesus

It seems like a question you wouldn't need to ask: what is eternal life?

I think if you asked anyone on the street to define it, they'd say something like, "Eternal life is life that goes on forever; it never ends." And granted, that's the literal definition. But from a Biblical standpoint, is that it? Is there more to it?

We know that the children of God, those who follow Jesus Christ, are given eternal life as an inheritance:

Matthew 19:29
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 25:46
And these [the unrighteous/disobedient] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

It seems to me that the Jews were aware that eternal life could be inherited:

Mark 10:17-22
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

(I love that passage, by the way. It rips my heart out to think of that man walking away--from eternal life, really--but it shows us such a deeply exciting look into who Jesus is. He looked at him and loved him.)

When I read about eternal life in the New Testament, certainly the idea of "life that goes on forever" is a correct interpretation, but it's not a complete one. I'd say it's "abundant life that goes on forever and is connected intimately and wholly with relationship to the Messiah." This is the heart of the meaning of life in a New Testament context, as I read it.

John 10:9-10
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 3:14-16, 36
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life....He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

In fact, eternal life is actually explicitly defined, a couple of times, in this New Covenant!

Jesus said, "I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me" (John 12:50). Peter said to Jesus, ""Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." The very words of God ARE, and GIVE, eternal life. Interestingly, Jesus is called the logos, or Word, of God in John 1.

Jesus is the only way to this eternal life because He IS eternal life. He is the Source, the never-ending Spring of living water! It is through relationship with HIM that eternal life exists for us!

Heb 5:8-10
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

That was actually the passage that made me think of John 17, and in turn, this topic, this morning.

Think of how many people have searched for eternal life throughout human history. Many, maybe most, myths and ancient legends have to do with the human desire to attain eternal life and to be like God or the gods. The answer to all those quests and desires is so simple. It's not found through spelunking through ancient caves, looking for documents or chalices. It's not found through killing a twelve-headed monster or saving a virgin from a gruesome death.

It's found by simply trusting in, following and obeying the Lord Jesus Christ, the originator and giver of life.

What is eternal life?

John 17:3
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

For me that one passage could sum up every other scripture quoted here. Eternal life is, quite simply, knowing God and knowing Jesus. The opportunity to know them (in a way man has never known God before) is the opportunity to experience, and to continue to experience, abundant, joyful life, outside of the boundaries of time and space: for eternity.

Jesus is central to this eternal life because it COMES from Him! 'Jesus' and 'eternal life' cannot be separated as concepts or realities. Eternity outside of the presence of Christ isn't life; it's eternal death. We're eternal creatures, one way or the other. But that's another post.

John 4:13-14
Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

The human body can go much longer without food than without water. Jesus is necessary for spiritual life in the same way that water is necessary for physical life to continue.

John 5:39-40
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

The Bible only gives life insofar as it presents the Words of God. It is these Words that give life IF the hearer's heart is penetrated by them, and the eyes opened by the Spirit (John 6:63).

John 6:27, 39-40
Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal....And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the last day. For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life--that I should raise them at the last day.

Notice that it is Jesus, the giver of eternal life, who raises His people on the last day--raising them to eternal life.

And the bottom line for us is this: we are striving for a prize, and that is abundant life with Jesus that goes on forever. We must not grow weary in pursuing it.

Romans 2:6-8
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Romans 6:21-23
Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Well into the Second Trimester!

Well folks, I'm almost 16 weeks.

(resounding applause)

We went to the doctor earlier this week and had another ultrasound; I thought you might like to thrill to the sight of Baby's Frith's spine, skull, arm, and hand.

Check it out!

BACK VIEW--See the spine? Little tiny bones!

SCRATCHING HEAD (A little more difficult to see. This is a front view.)

The morning sickness hasn't completely gone; evenings are the worst, usually, and dinner is still iffy. I couldn't eat the spaghetti I made last night, for instance. But such occurrences are, at least, not daily anymore.