Archive | November, 2013
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A Change of Pace–Sharing a Paella Recipe!

25 Nov

A Change of Pace–Sharing a Paella Recipe!

Someone asked where I found my latest, most updated, best paella recipe so I promised to share this one I found on allrecipes.com.

Paella is of Spanish origin; I first ate it in Spain in 1982. My current recipe includes a good number of red pepper flakes in the rice, which makes it somewhat more Mexican (hot) in taste than the classic Spain version, which is “zesty” but with lighter spices and very little “heat.”

Along with saffron rice, paella has chicken, shrimp, and chorizo sausage; it sometimes has clams, in the shell, also.

My husband usually picks up French or New Orleans andouille sausage if he can’t find chorizo, which is the usual story in our nearby military commissary. It works just as well.

Now, for those who don’t like spicy food (usually half of every crowd invited over . . .) . . . that handy trend of “deconstructing” food works well here. I make one crockpot full of the full spice pepper flake paella, but I also deconstruct my paella into several other dishes as I cook it.

After I stir fry the chicken in onion and red pepper, I pull out a small bowl of chicken. Then I do the sausage and the shrimp the same way, pulling out small bowls of sausage and shrimp to the side.

I found a great use for those small fondue pots that sometimes come free with a crockpot purchase–I put some of the rice into a fondue pot before I add the red pepper flakes into the main crockpot.

Voila! The non-spice eating friend now has rice, three meats, and a bowl of peas (which are not called for in this particular paella recipe, but which I make separately, as I got used to eating peas with paella in Spain). She can build a non-spiced paella on her own plate.

I also serve a fruit platter, a salad (with nuts and croutons to the side to be added, as desired), and a plate of Jacobs cream crackers (British) with cheddar cheese slices to round out this meal.

And flan for dessert (with icecream for the kiddoes). But that will be a separate post . . .

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Closing the Military Commissaries!

24 Nov

I must admit that nothing in the last six months has gotten my blood boiling quite so much as the bland little news article this week saying that the powers that be have charged the military chiefs to come up with a plan for closing the military commissaries (grocery stores, with special prices and no sales tax).  This would be regarded as collateral damage from sequestration.

The article was quick to say that Congress would probably never pass such a plan. 

Really?  Then why is it on the table?  

Is it really necessary to break every promise ever made to those of us who gave the best years of our lives to our country’s military?

It should never need to come to Congress for a vote.  That would just be another opportunity for them to grandstand.

Congress didn’t give us this privilege–we earned it.  And, yes, not every American gets it.  Because not every American served.  

Don’t make us promises when we sign up, then later hold them hostage to a vote for your particular political party. Either we earned these privileges or we did not.  If we earned them, they are part of our agreed wage package, so continue to give us these privileges as pay for our time invested.

It really is that easy!  Really!

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Bragging on my Kid and Shepherds College in Wisconsin

22 Nov

Bragging on my Kid and Shepherds College in Wisconsin

Humblebragging with pictures of a beautiful young man and his fellow students at a college created for special needs individuals.  

Can We Be Sure We Are Born Again?

21 Nov

In Scripture, we learn that things can be paradoxical without being contradictory.  

I have long chewed on two New Testament passages, trying to harmonize them:  

1) I John 5:13, that says that God spoke the book of I John to us so that we might know we have eternal life and

2) Matthew 7:22, that says many will say to God, “Lord, Lord” as He sends them away to judgment, arguing that they have done great works in His Name.  

The idea is presented, in preaching, that the Matthew 7:22 gang will believe, up till the moment they are sent away, that they are genuinely saved, just like the I John 5:13 gang.  

Only, if that is so, then I John 5:13 isn’t true . . . none of us can know for sure we are born again.

Let’s take the Matthew passage for what it says, not for how we want to preach it.  It says people will say, “Lord, Lord” and cite their works as the proof of their salvation.  It is very easy to mistake the proof of our salvation (we should all exhibit works after salvation) for the basis of our salvation (which is Christ’s finished work on the cross).  But if we totally get that mixed up all life long and enter eternity putting our trust in our works rather than in the finished work of Christ, I believe we will show that we got salvation wrong. It was never meant to be faith in ourselves, or pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.   

I believe there will be many people who head into eternity sure that they are saved and trusting in the wrong thing.  God did not say in I John 5:13 that people trusting in Buddha, Muhammed, their own inherent worth, or their good works can know they are born again.  There are clearly some who will be surprised on judgment day that they did not make the cut.  But that will be because they never realized they needed to shelter themselves in the finished work of Christ in order to make the cut (the standard is to completely keep all points of the law, which no human has ever done, only the God-man Christ).  

I believe, on the authority of Scripture, that no one who has ever fled to Christ and sheltered in His righteousness will be turned away on that final day.  We sin and we mess up all the time.  But if we then got to the judgment bar and were told that, due to our mistakes, we missed the cut (and became part of the gang saying “Lord, Lord”) that would be a works salvation in itself.  And, believe me, I have had a long road to my current understanding of this as I started out as one of those who thought we had to say the sinner’s prayer exactly right in order to be saved.  I didn’t understand that that, too, was a work.  Jesus said “It is finished” and saved me by His work.  I shelter in that truth.    

No, I don’t believe it will be possible for someone who claims Christ’s righteousness as their remedy for sin to get to the judgment and be told they didn’t follow that process exactly correctly. Because that process is all about grace, from beginning to end.  

The ones saying “Lord, Lord” will know, deep down inside, that they have always tried to get to heaven by way of their own works.  They may have attended a church that taught salvation through Jesus Christ’s work.  But they never looked at it that way, no matter what they may have said to others.  And they will not be surprised when they don’t make the cut. 

I believe we need to seriously preach the salvation message to make sure people are in Christ, trusting completely in His finished work.  But once someone is in Christ, they can never be let go from His arms.  Even their own subsequent doubts are not strong enough to combat God’s everlasting love!!!  Praise God!

Remembering JFK . . .

21 Nov

My husband and I just had one of those talks that are so good that you always wonder why they occur during the busy morning, instead of at night when you have time to let them linger. And why is it that when you finally go out for that romantic meal, you can never remember those topics anyway?

Probably something to do with living in the moment . . .

We were remembering where we were when we heard that JFK had been shot, that the President was dead.

As I recall, the two announcements were almost simultaneous. But I have subsequently heard that there was a bit of controversy about when the death announcement should occur. And news media, back then, did not race to announce things, even if they ended up being wrong. They waited to confirm their information with the authorities. The White House press secretary wielded tons more power in those days . . . (see any article ever written about why JFK’s affairs were not made public till after his death, but I digress, and I truly want to honor the man, not soil his memory).

I was in kindergarten in the fall of 1963. I remember being sent home from school that day, November 22, 1963, at right around 2:00 in the afternoon. That would have been noon in Dallas.

I walked to school back then, a journey which still, in my mind, seems like it took forever. It actually was just about four blocks, two up my street, then two from Wendell Street, our dirt road with small but well-built starter homes, to busy thoroughfare Burton Street where I had to cross to get to my school.

There were three ways to get from Wendell Street to Burton Street, two of them paths and one of them alongside busy Cascade Road, which actually ran in front of our next door neighbors’ house. I usually avoided Cascade Road but, as I recall, I came back from school along Cascade Road that day. The paths seemed too tenuous, as though I could get lost there and never be found.

You see, my dad had built us a shelter in our basement during the Cuban Missile Crisis and so, when I heard that the President was dead, I thought doomsday had come and the world was ending. I didn’t cry. I have rarely cried in moments of great personal sorrow and confusion. I just got home as quickly as I could to await the end with my family.

Such is the mind of a five-year-old.

Noel, on the other hand, five time zones away from us and seven from Dallas, was watching television in the early hours of the evening when his dad told them all to hush and follow the news bulletins coming in from Dallas. This would have been huge for my (now late) father-in-law as he was Irish-Catholic, settled in Britain during World War II, and would have greatly identified with our first Catholic president and the controversy he had to overcome in order to occupy the office (people actually thought he might be beholden to the Pope as president. Some actively campaigned against him on those grounds!!!).

So our Irish-Catholic president stirred the heart and emotions of my Irish-Catholic father-in-law.

Noel just remembers thinking of our country as the vast empire across the sea, and feeling that this must be huge if the leader of such a great empire had been killed.

He was eleven and, like all city kids in Birmingham, England then and now, took the city bus to his school. Most European countries do things that way and have, since buses were invented.

This morning we marveled that the world seemed so much safer then. My mom, with two children younger than me, could send me out the door for afternoon kindergarten alone (I didn’t have any same-age friends in the neighborhood to walk with me to school–the two who were a year older would have already been at school when my afternoon session started and my other friend was still a year too young for kindergarten). I later on, when I reached full day status in first grade, had fears about some boys who sometimes chased me along one of those paths to school when I was alone, but bullying back then consisted only in making me afraid, not in actually attacking me. A more innocent age.

And Noel marveled this morning that he blithely took the city bus to school back then while, just this year on that same bus route, a schoolgirl of about age 10 was stabbed to death on the upper deck of the bus while on her way to school.

Yes, a more innocent age.

I do remember Camelot and I honor the man who believed he could build it.

The Day JFK, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley Died

21 Nov

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/11/21/the-day-c-s-lewis-john-f-kennedy-and-aldous-huxley-died/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wordpress%2Ftrevinwax+%28Kingdom+People%29

I. Must. Read. This. Book.

Yes, the author presents C.S. Lewis’s theology and worldview more sympathetically than the others, but he took the time to digest them all. How many people actually take the time to do that with views with which they disagree?

Good scholarship and, I am sure, a brilliant read.

Work is Not a Curse!

16 Nov

Somewhere in between the Fall of Man and the Victorian era, work got a bad rap.  Specifically, physical labor became known as the bane of mankind’s existence.  

Not sure why that happened.  As a lifetime Weight Watcher, I am well aware of the benefits of a hard workout.  Even better if that workout results in something being cleaned for someone, or some physical alteration to their yard that is of benefit to them!!!

But . . . things being the way they are with human nature, the idea of serving others and being useful to them became attached to the concept of servanthood (being of a lower caste than someone else).  And our fleshly pride didn’t like that at all. 

This is despite the fact that Philippians 2 tells us that our Saviour willingly condescended to become our servant for 33 years on earth.  “Oh, no, God forbid that anyone should think of me as less than I think of myself!!!”

And so it happens that now, more than 2000 years after Christ’s advent, it is hard for a Sunday school teacher to find classmembers willing to come clean their church on the day, once every five weeks, when it is assigned to them.

Those who have read this blog with any regularity know that I am all about intentionality in living.

In fact, while I understand that many people do not wish to consider living intentionally (it “nails them down” and reduces their options, according to some of their own number), I do not factor them in when I lay out my goals for where I hope to go during my time yet on this planet.  If they don’t come along with me, that is their choice.  But I am not going to stop the forward momentum just because someone balks at the journey!

So, during our monthly church cleaning session, I plan to strap on the backpack vacuum cleaner every time I am able until the Lord takes me home to glory.  I will vacuum the auditorium and as much of the rest of the church as I can in an hour and a half.  That is four Weight Watchers points for me!  Just what I want!

If others are there, we will get the rest of the building cleaned.  If it is just me, I may still have time to take on the bathrooms.  

If not, so be it.  I am one person.  One person who chooses to not beg others to do things that would actually benefit them greatly (getting a workout, building a sense of community).

We can only do what we can do.  

However, ponder this:  health care costs are skyrocketing and paid employees get paid health care.  The only other option for cleaning our church, if volunteers don’t do it, is for the church to hire a cleaner, not only incurring a greater bill for wages, but also for health care.  I understand we just spiked upward again only last month so that the health care bill for around 50 employees is now over $10,000 a month.

And, actually, that is not bad, considering our family pays over $900 a month for three of us. Three of us covered by my 27-year military career.  Health care is expensive and the U.S. has the best health care of all (when you are covered and can get it).

Sooo, we can put our heads in the sand and say that the church staff size and its costs have nothing to do with us.  We can refuse to volunteer–when a Sunday school teacher writes down the information about a church cleaning session, we can just sit there and not make a note of it.

We can . . . In the end, what do we gain?  

 

 

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