Love You, Mom

Recently, I found something that belonged to my mama. It was something I thought had been lost even before her death 20 months ago.  It was something very special to her, and because of that – especially because of that – it’s special to me.

This lead me to my Mama’s Box Of Stuff so I could place the item  where it belonged. When I opened the box to put the found item in, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. It was a bright yellow Dollar General bag.  How did I miss this little bag about a year and a half ago when I was sorting mama’s things, ever so carefully and in great detail, searching for and extracting memories from each picture, doodled on scrap of paper, address book and to-do list I could find?  I opened the small bag to find a signed, un-delivered birthday card…..from mama to me.  From my mama, to me!

I guess I don’t have to tell you there was a dramatic pause. Time.Stood.Still as I read every word in the card and felt the separation between the here and there caressed ever so tenderly.

LOVE doesn’t die. LOVE lasts. LOVE transcends. LOVE lives. On. and On. and On.

Mama didn’t know when she bought and signed that card when exactly it would be delivered to me…but God’s timing is always perfect, and better than anything we could ever orchestrate.  As I celebrate birthday 48, I am most thankful for the gift of eternal life…Hope in Jesus Christ….and know that a Heavenly celebration is yet to come!

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And thank you, Lord, for the gift of my mama’s love.

SomeKindOfGood Chicken

WHOLE30 Compliant

There’s a great little restaurant in our town that has the best Mediterranean food….and the best chicken I’ve ever had.  EVER!   Marinated in olive oil goodness, kissed with all sorts of herbs and citrus…

So I created a little chicken dish at home that resembles greatly the chicken I have come to love and crave so much.  I hope you’ll give it a try.  So easy.  Amazingly delicious.  And good for you, to boot!  The pic below shows the simple ingredients that make this chicken shine!

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INGREDIENTS

4 – 8 Skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts
Olive Oil
Oregano – dried
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
Red Potatoes
Olives – the Greek ones that start with the letter K
Lemons
Sea Salt

WHAT YOU DO

Put chicken into a large ZipLock bag, or pyrex dish.

Pour olive oil over the chicken (I don’t know, 4 – 6 Tablespoons, maybe more).
Dump some dried oregano in (Again, I don’t know!  A little, a lot – up to you).
Sprinkle in some sea salt ( -sigh- about 2 Tablespoons).
Zip up the bag and squish it all around.
Make sure chicken breasts are oily and season-y.
Place in fridge for 2o minutes to two days.
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Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
Dump the chicken mixture onto a lined baking pan or dish.
Cook uncovered for about 40 minutes.
Open oven and add a handful of tomatoes & potatoes & olives.
Cook for about 20 minutes more.

Remove from oven.
Squeeze at least 2 fresh lemons over the chicken and veggies.

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EAT.IT.UP!

I make lots of this, every week.  Usually I do 8 chicken breasts at a time.  Love them cold right out of the fridge, or re-heated.  My 14-year-old likes taking this to school in his lunchbox, too.  Simply seasoned, and simply delicious!  Sometimes I add a handful or two of mixed greens (fresh or frozen) when I add the other veggies.  This is a great way to sneak in some Kale.  😉

Chicken Soup for your Mind, Body & Soul

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There’s something I must confess to you right up front.  When it comes to these recipes I post, you gotta know I don’t measure a thing. NOTHING!  I eyeball everything and have this motto, “the more the better” when it comes to dumping in herbs and spices.  Knowing that, take any measurements I note with a grain of salt.  Or a tablespoon full.  🙂

THIS SOUP has been in the making since 1995.  My husband and I have been tweaking and perfecting and adding stuff over the years, and we finally have this star soup where it belongs…..CAPITAL DEE Delicious!  It is like drinking a cushy, baby wool sweater, ’cause it cozies you up from the inside out…..except unlike a mouth full of wool, this tastes good going down!  We eat it ALL YEAR LONG.  Seriously!  And find that this low calorie, hearty brew is soul soothing in any season.  We hope you enjoy it as much as our family does and that you will come to consider it a “staple meal” in your home.
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INGREDIENTS

Whole chicken (I prefer All Natural from Food Lion)
8 large carrots
2 medium onions (or one giant one)
4 stalks of celery
2-5 turnip roots * (the white & purple ball thing)
Minced garlic – about 2 big soup spoons full (there’s that measuring thing!)
Dried tarragon  – a bunch of it (buy the big bottle at Sam’s or a kitchen supply store)
Salt
Pepper
Frozen block of chopped spinach (Pictsweet, Hanover….)

WHAT TO DO

Wash your chicken, and pull out that surprise bag inside and discard it.
Plop your clean chick in a large stockpot.
Cover with cold water.
Peel 4 carrots. Cut in half. Drop in with your chicken.
Peel & quarter the onions.  Throw them in the pot.
Wash & cut in half 2 stalks of celery.  Put ’em in, too.
Peel your turnip roots.  Halve them.  Put them in the pot.
Add the minced garlic.
Dump in some tarragon.  Literally.  Must be 4-5 TBSPs, at least.
Add salt & pepper.  You decide how much.
You’ll add more to your bowl later.

BOIL THIS STUFF.
Once boiling, turn it down to medium.
Cover with a lid, but tilted to allow for breathing room.
Cook this way for about 75 – 90 minutes.

Pull your chicken out carefully, and set it aside.
It should be falling apart.  So good!

Strain remaining liquid and vegetables into a new, clean pot.

Look at that!
That’s wonderful, health-filled liquid gold!

Throw away the strained out veggies when they cool.
Lord, please wait until they are cool!
I have melted many a trash bag by throwing them out too soon.

Put the “new pot” of broth back on the stove.
Medium-low.  Get it slightly boiling.

Dice remaining carrots (4 of them) and celery (2 stalks).
Add them to the “new pot”.
Cover, with a tilt.
Cook for about 35 minutes.

While this is cooking, you can start pulling your chicken.
Yay!  Touch that hot thing!
You will discard all the bones, skin, cartilage….all the gross stuff.
Sit chicken meat aside.

After your 35 minutes of cooking,
Add the spinach block to your broth.
Cook for another 15 minutes.

Turn off your stove!  You’re almost done!

Add the cooled, pulled chicken meat to the pot.

EAT.IT.UP!

Now this seems like a long, complicated recipe, but I assure you it is not!  Because of the cook times, you can do other stuff while it’s “simmering”.  Sometimes I begin this soup in the morning, and finish it in the evening.  Or prepare it over two days!  

This soup is WHOLE30 COMPLIANT

If you have children in the home, or a husband who needs some “substance” in his soup besides some floating green stuff,  you can boil noodles on the side and serve this soup on top of them.  This makes it NOT Whole30 compliant, but it really pleases a hungry group of teenagers and/or a needy husband (for the record, my man’s been eating this soup noodle free for the last 30-some days!).  This is also a great way to sneak greens into your family.  “Sneak”, because they can’t really pick them out and the greens are really incognito, except for their give-away color.

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Oh, and  a note about the turnip roots.  Almost forgot the 
asterisk.  *

Don’t be afraid of the turnip roots (see them in the right side of the picture below).  Root vegetables really get a bad rap.  Or is it wrap?  Anyhow – root veggies add a depth of flavor that is remarkable in broth.  The vitamins and nutrients are bar none some of the best you’ll find in the veggie market!  I use turnip roots because they are usually readily available in our grocery stores here year round, and pretty easy to peel and cut in half.  I’ve also used rutabaga, too, and that add’s a nice flavor.  A little more strong than the turnip, but nice, none-the-less.  If you’re not sure about the flavor, then add just 2 to your broth to begin with.  If you like the flavor of the broth, try upping it to 3 or 4 the next go around.  I use no less than 5!  Adjust the broth to suit your preference.  Personally, I don’t enjoy eating turnip root at all, but the flavor it yields in the broth is one I miss if I skip out on the roots.  

img_6669This is the chicken I prefer to use:  Nature’s Place, all natural whole chicken.  Get it at Food Lion.  It’s a little more pricey than run of the mill whole chickens, but so worth the difference in price!  Put good things in your body….and your body knows!

p.s.  That price doesn’t scare me.  Just a number.  Just a number.  Even on halloween, it’s just a number.   If it scares you, we need to talk.  Jesus is so much more than any number can ever pretend to be.  🙂

Potatoes In A Pan, Man!

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INGREDIENTS

2 TBSP EVOO
2 TBSP minced garlic
3 small onions, diced
4-5 medium potatoes, diced
1/4 cup water
1.5 green bell peppers, sliced
2 TSP salt
1 TSP pepper
1/2 TSP ground sage

WHAT YOU DO

Heat EVOO in a pan over medium heat.
Add garlic. Cook 1 minute.
Add onions.  Stir. Cook 3 minutes.
Add potatoes.  Stir. Cook 3 minutes.
Add water.
Add green bell peppers. Stir. Cook 3 minutes.
Add seasonings. Stir. Add lid.
Reduce heat to medium low.  Cook 10 minutes.
Remove lid.  Return to medium heat.
Cook until desired texture.

EAT.IT.UP!

***   WHOLE30 compliant ***

 

Prefer this dish prepared with Red or Yukon Gold potatoes, skin on, but you can use any variety of potato, with skin or naked.  Cooking this with the lid off until the potatoes begin to stick to the pan yields a little blackened “crust” on the edges of the veggies.  So good!

My Relationship With The Trashcan

Sometimes I hear God loud and clear.
It’s not that He’s sometimes speaking to me, but more that I’m sometimes listening.
And when I’m not listening very well to something He is adamantly saying, He sometimes has to show me.  And most of the times, when He sometimes has to show me something, I don’t see it.  Not the first time.  Probably not the second.  Maybe I will see it the third time, but I can’t say for certain that’s always a truthful statement.

Today, God showed me the trashcan.  It took THREE times before I saw it plain as day, and realized that I have an awfully quick handed relationship with that thing.

FIRST GLIMPSE (I totally missed this one):

I thought it was a container of butter.
It wasn’t.
I was scraping it out into the trashcan before I realized it was orange frosting.
My mother-in-law’s frosting, to boot!
Horrible, horrible mistake.
It looked like re-solidifed soft butter.
Butter than had been firm, then melted, and then re-firmed.
You know what they say about looks…that they can be deceiving?
They were.  And I didn’t think twice about it.
I thought it was something it wasn’t.

SECOND GLIMPSE (missed this one, too):

I thought it was trash.
An empty package.
It wasn’t.
I had thrown it away, tied up the garbage bag and hauled it outside to our curbside trashcan before I realized it was a brand spanking new package of chewing gum.
A pack my husband would later be hunting for.
It had been sitting atop the counter in the kitchen with other trash items:
and empty can, broken pencil and torn in half junk mail.
You know what they say about the company you keep?
This pack of gum was hanging out with the wrong crowd.
That’s what happened to it.
I thought it was something it wasn’t.

GLIMPSE THREE (this one I got!  I finally got it!)

I thought it was a forgotten soft drink.
There was a ring of condensation beneath it.
It wasn’t.
I said to my son, “Daddy forgot to take his drink to work”,
and I popped off the lid and dumped it in the sink.
It ‘plopped out”, the last quarter of my son’s milk shake.
You know what they say about judging a book by it’s cover?
I did that. And that’s what happened to the milk shake.
I thought it was something it wasn’t.

“Lord, I’m so quick to discard things, discounting them as things they are not.  Oh, Heavenly Father, do I do this with more important things, too?  Like people – my relationships with them?  Situations?  It’s so easy to ‘keep tidy’ by throwing things aside, or by getting rid of them all together.  Lord, I need Your help to distinguish between the things of value and the things that are to be cast aside.  Please help me to see Your hand-sewn opportunities beneath the exterior coverings of people and situations that are of value to You.  I don’t want to go through this life missing those opportunities.  And Father, I need Your help also in knowing when to let things go.  Help me to listen and see better, Lord.  Thank you for Your patience with me, and unwavering love, despite how messy I am.   I love you!  In Your Son’s name, Amen.”

 

 

I Thank My God For You

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Phillipians 1:3

Today marks one year since my mama stepped into Eternity. Time is a funny thing. It’s a constraint inside this world, but outside of these boundaries, it’s nothing really. Though mama has been absent from our lives physically, her memory is so alive with us – so present! – that she is a part of our every day. Still. And I am thankful!

Leading up to today, I’ve been trying to feel all the things that this world tells us we should feel when we lose someone so dear to us. I’ve considered sadness, a suppressed joy, even…I’ve considered what might be outwardly perceived as a respectful, mournful state…and I’ve even considered that silence might be an appropriate display for this time.  But what the world tells me I should feel today, and what I should have been feeling all year, does not match up with the promises of My Savior – and oh, how I can’t deny that its by nothing less than God’s grace and mercy – His complete and faithful promises – that I am not feeling exactly the way the world teaches us to feel. Instead, leading up to today, the Lord has showered me with some amazing memories that are like a cool-whipped topping on the peace He has graciously given me. Memories of YOU!

You have gifted me, kind strangers, my friends and my family, with a love brought to flesh directly from The One who set this world in motion. I DO thank my God for every time I remember you!

YOU, short red-haired lady who always greeted my mama with that beautiful smile, as you escorted her behind the scene at Dr. Pavy’s office. YOU, soft-spoken manager at the hotel where mama and I stayed in Charleston, waiting to see the doctors at MUSC. YOU, young working mother at the bank who took time to hold onto my mama’s hand in the parking lot, where you so graciously handled her business while she stayed in the comfort of our car. YOU, four gentlemen, who gave my mama the ride of her life in the heart-reach ambulance (she really did love your humor, that wasn’t just the pain medication talking!). YOU, all of you, with McLeod Hospice, treating my mama with such dignity and calm – and loving on our whole family. So many, many kind strangers that Jesus shined through. I remember you, and I am thankful.

And my friends. You know who you are. You brought my mama an ever-flowing supply of donuts from Krispy Kreme. You went with mama for her first pedicure. You saved my mama from a spider, and she really did believe you were a superhero for that! You tracked me down at MUSC to share a Starbucks and tears. You showered my mama with the most beautiful flowers. You sent mama the sweetest letter, telling her of the goodness of life through trials and the abundant love of Jesus (she kept that letter inside her pillowcase, did you know that?) You baked us a yummy chocolate chip cake…fed our souls with so much delicious foods and company.  You stayed by mama’s bedside with me, through her very last breath. You called. You emailed. You sent cards. You prayed. You came and sang hymns to her. You held mama’s right hand, while I held her left, and encouraged her to go into the arms of Jesus. You, ALL OF YOU,  loved with the hands and feet AND heart of Jesus.  I remember you, and I am thankful.

And to my family. I love you. My mama loved you – every single one of you – ferociously. From shelling butterbeans with her just a couple of weeks before she left this earth…to the fingernail polishes you delivered bedside…The flounder you special delivered to our house so mama could enjoy her favorite…the calls, the visits…the hugs and squeezes…the tears and the laughter…The Lord gifted my mama’s life – my life – when He made us family.  I remember you, and I am thankful.

And to my husband and sons – words cannot describe what we have journeyed through together.  Nana  loved her boys, ALL OF YOU, so much.  What a blessing to have her in our lives as we did.  As we do.  I draw on so much strength from who you are in Him.  I remember you, and I am thankful.

Today my mama’s been celebrating in heaven for a year our time – but for an eternity in eternity!  That brings me endless joy – almost giddy, even – to know where my mama is and in Whose presence she walks, literally, always.  I’m not sad, world, and I’m not depressed or off-centered today, as you would want me to be.  My mama lives today!  More so than any of us here on earth.  She lives, and I WILL see her again.  All because I know that Jesus’s promises are true, today I’m celebrating what is to come.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

-Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Room 15

My mama had pancreatic cancer. She chose hospice care, instead of trying to battle this particular intruder. I know that there are many (too many) who are and will face this beast called cancer, pa…

Source: Room 15