Thai Shrimp and Noodles

June 5, 2014 | My Jottings

I’ve made Thai Shrimp and Noodles for years, but it has been a long time since I fixed it. I like shrimp, but don’t eat very much of it, since it’s a bottom feeder and all. So once or twice or thrice a year, I might make something with shrimp. I can’t remember where I got this recipe or I would give proper credit. I’ve tweaked it for our family’s taste and thought I’d share it with you. We had it last night and there were some  “mmm-mmm good!” comments.

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Thai Shrimp and Noodles

16 ounces broken spaghetti noodles
1 pound broccoli flowerets (about 4 cups)
1 pound fresh or frozen shrimp
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup soy sauce
8 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons sesame oil
1 dash Tabasco or 1 teaspoon crushed chili peppers
2 tablespoons grated ginger root (I like to use the kind that comes in little jars)
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
1/2 cup chopped, raw cashews

In a very large pot, bring a large amount of water to boiling.  Add pasta; cook four minutes.  Add broccoli; cook two minutes.  Add shrimp; cook 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine peanut butter and soy sauce.  Stir in vinegar, sesame oil, chili peppers or Tabasco, ginger root and garlic.  I like to whisk this all together to mix the peanut butter in with everything well.

Drain spaghetti mixture and return to the pan.  Add the peanut butter mixture, green onions and nuts.  Toss gently to coat.  Serve in warmed pasta bowl.  Makes 6 generous servings.

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What’s for dinner tonight at your house?

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 113

June 4, 2014 | My Jottings

A scatterer of joy or pain. Is it really as easy as just choosing one over the other?

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In another life I would have said yes. Now I need supernatural help from Heaven to choose rightly. Maybe that’s the way it’s always been (that I’ve received supernatural help), but now I’m more aware.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this, if you would be kind enough to share….

To Protect and to Serve

May 28, 2014 | My Jottings

This is my kind of policeman.

Did this make you smile today?

Soup and Solitude

May 24, 2014 | My Jottings

Yesterday I had two hours to myself, the first time in a while. Michael’s home health aide Paul came from 3:30 to 5:30, and after turning off the cauliflower soup I had just simmered on the stove, I kissed Michael goodbye, thanked Paul, and set off.

I drove straight to Hawk’s Ridge, which is a high stretch of road in our city that overlooks Lake Superior and gives one a view all the way to the south shore of Wisconsin. I love to visit Hawk’s Ridge in the fall because the tree colors are brilliant against the deep blue of our Lake. Even though the trees are barely budding because our spring is so late, the view was still magnificent. I never get tired of it.

I opened the sun roof in the car, cracked the windows, reclined the seat a bit, and just breathed. Blessed solitude. It was a lovely warmish day after an unbelievably long and cold winter. I took a book to read but never opened it. I just sat and gazed at the blue of our massive, weather-controlling Great Lake, and then closed my eyes as the sun warmed my skin. I could easily have dozed.

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After an hour of this precious quiet and beauty I drove to a grocery store to get milk, peanuts in the shell, cottage cheese, bananas, and dense, crusty bread, the latter to go with the Pioneer Woman’s Cauliflower Soup I had started earlier in the day.

When I returned home at 5:15 I carried in the groceries and was so happy to see that Paul had helped Michael shower and my husband was resting peacefully in his recliner watching “Bonanza.” I turned on the burner under the soup again and prepared the roux to add at the last to thicken it up. Soup, salad and bread — I could practically live on that meal. The recipe was a hit with all eaters, and I will make it again — have you made it yet? Scrumptious.

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I made enough to serve for dinner tonight too. I think soup and anything saucy always tastes better the second day, and then I get the treat of waking up in the morning and knowing dinner is already made.

A few days ago Michael asked me to take him out for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I was hesitant, since getting down the basement stairs and into the garage can be treacherous for him, but he seemed strong and I didn’t want to disappoint him. We sit in the house a lot. Parkinson’s Disease is isolating like that. I used the gait belt on him and had no trouble getting him slowly downstairs and into the car. Going into the restaurant went pretty well too. After our good meal we drove through the nearby Dairy Queen to get him a soft serve cone dipped in chocolate. I could tell he was so happy to be outside and driving around in such beautiful, gentle spring weather. By the time we got home he was very tired, and getting him upstairs was not without mishap. He lost his balance and fell against the garage wall near the door, but since I had a hold of the belt he wasn’t badly hurt. It’s still stressful to fall though, and I could tell by the pounding of his heart that he was shaken up. We labored a long time to get upstairs, and when I had him safely reclining in his living room chair I cleaned up the small scrape on his forearm. In seconds he was sound asleep.

We have some options that I’m considering. Should we build a ramp in our front yard so we can use the wheelchair to get him outside that way? Should we have an estimate on one of those indoor seat lifts that carries a person up and down the stairs? Personally, I’d love a people shute similar to the ones they use at banks to get one’s deposit slips from the drive up station to the smiling teller behind the window.

This weekend we’ll be staying in, maybe watching the shipping traffic on the Lake we’re so close to, maybe turning on an episode or two of “All Creatures Great and Small.” I might tackle some paperwork and I also have big plans to clean the filters in my vacuum. :) I hope to get some serious reading in.

What are you doing this weekend? If you’re reading a good book right now, will you share which one it is?

Happy spring to you,

Back to Basics

May 19, 2014 | My Jottings

I have always wished that I had learned to hide God’s Word in my heart at a younger age. I didn’t begin serious Bible study until 1998, and even though I’ve continued ever since and have memorized a few verses along the way, I’m sometimes shocked and sickened at the lack of fruit in my life. While doing dishes yesterday morning and feeling at the end of my rope thread, I wondered what I would be had I not half-heartedly tried to follow Jesus these many years. An ax-murderer? A ruthless commodities broker who climbed all over people to get to the top? A line cook at Taco Bell? An eccentric, hump-backed, bitter old woman who lived in the woods with her cockatiels? Yes, yes, and yes, probably.

So even though I’m dismayed by what hardship and illness has brought to our home, I’m going to keep trying in my very flawed way to follow after my Savior. I keep thanking Him that He’s willing to work with people like me and telling Him to not give up on me. In my right mind I know that I don’t need to weep out these prayers because His love and nature is such that He won’t give up on me, but sometimes I can’t help peering through the cloudy filter of exhaustion and sadness, and I have to believe it’s all right.

Years ago I wanted a way to help my grandchildren hide God’s Word in their hearts, and I remembered that when my three daughters were growing up, we had a cassette tape we listened to in the car called G.T. and the Halo Express. I found a site online to purchase CDs with all the old stories and Bible verses set to songs, and I bought every one of them. Then I began casually playing them in the car when I had the kids with me and on the bedroom CD player when they would spend the night. They loved the stories, and learned quickly to sing the songs, and within about a year or so the oldest grandchildren had effortlessly memorized over 50 scriptures. You can hear an example of Colossians 3:23-24 here.

I also decided to make little cards with the verses on them, held together by a ring, and when we took car trips they looked at the verses in print as they heard them on the CDs and hid them in their hearts by singing them. You can click to enlarge these pictures if you like.

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I’ve heard that stress can do a number on your memory (cortisol, anyone?), and I already know that menopause pokes a few holes in it as well. Even so, I decided to pull out the ring of memory verses yesterday and see if any of them will come back to me if I try to sing them to myself with the melodies from G.T. This one above was instant recall. (Granted, I know this one by heart without any music, but the song was easily accessed in this troubled brain of mine, and for that I was grateful.)

And this one is still there:

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And this one…I really need to meditate on and sing this one:

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And these:

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Yes. A million times yes.

So it’s back to the basics for me.

“I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11

I know some of you are praying for us. Thank you.

Considering Yokes

May 15, 2014 | My Jottings

I don’t have a lot of spare time these days, as Michael’s cares have increased. He’s not usually able to walk without assistance, so I use a gait belt to help him get around — from our bed to the dining room table, from the dining room table to his recliner in the living room, from the living room to the bathroom, etc. I have to be careful even leaving the room he’s in, because he forgets that he’s having trouble walking, and sometimes gets up and stumbles. He fell a couple of days ago, but I was right there with him and was able to grab the belt and keep him from falling hard; I just sort of lowered his butt to the ground and we both ended up giggling about it a bit. It could have been a lot worse, I realize.

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But I do have a lot of time to think, and I’m endeavoring to keep my mind from traveling down the rough roads of selfishness and despair, so on a good day, I think on a scripture or two. Here’s what’s on my mind today, the blessed words of Jesus Himself from Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (ESV)

And the same verses from The Message:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Edith, pictured above, sure seems to be able to live out the commands of Christ. She’s living freely and lightly — she has always been a Hallelujah Hound.

Me, I’m still learning about this. I think the key to this passage has to do with the words “gentle and lowly in heart.”

Have a blessed day, dear friends….

This is on repeat in my house and heart

May 7, 2014 | My Jottings

This is the beautiful song by Audrey Assad that is wounding and healing my heart right now. I want to hear it over and over again. I want its truth worked into my life, deeply and forever.

“I Shall Not Want”

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

No, I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

by Audrey Assad

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What do you think?

When Words Fail

May 1, 2014 | My Jottings

I’ve been working for a long time on a post about Michael and how he’s doing, and I tried again today to finish it, but I just can’t yet. I am never at a loss for words, but when reducing to black and white the account of what is happening to the precious mind and body of my husband, I can’t seem to do it. So I’ll just wait until the time seems right.

For now I will share this link with you, so you can see a photo montage my daughter Sharon recently surprised me with. A couple of months ago she took some beautiful pictures of eight of our grandchildren with Michael, of three of our daughters (herself included) with him, and she put them all together with one of my favorite songs about being a Christian and wondering about the suffering God allows.

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Be sure you have a few minutes to settle in, and turn your speakers up. The song is “Somewhere Down the Road” by Amy Grant.

I think the pictures convey what a deeply-loved man my husband is. Why God blessed me with the honor of being Michael’s wife, I’ll never know. But I thank Him…

Please click here.

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God’s peace to you all,

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 112

April 30, 2014 | My Jottings

rings“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

~~Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

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Julie’s Bookshelf

April 28, 2014 | My Jottings

My dear friend Diane saw the recent photos on my blog of how I rearranged the books in our living room bookshelves according to color. If you didn’t see those pictures, you can click here.

She knows the hard times we’re walking through right now, and wrote a poem for me based on some of the titles of the books in those photos, and on Michael’s and my life together. I asked her permission to share it here:

Julie’s Bookshelf

The Mystery.
The Gift! Once upon A Mother’s Time there were
Parenting Wars,
Choices, Changes .
Sometimes…. A Way of Seeing the Honey In A Child’s Heart.
Other times….Weird, Tough Stuff.

Always, though…A Heavenly Man, A Fine Romance.

Then, through The Years and The Living comes a trek through
A Long, Shadowed Forest.
Where Is God When It Hurts?
Is there A Reason?
Is all of the Pain and Suffering A Secret?
Walking with God through The Long Winter,
The Road of Blessing seems hidden West With The Night.

And finally you glimpse
A Light From Heaven
And you hear Voices of the Faithful
Singing a New Song.
You discover a New Way of Seeing. You remember to love with A Child’s Heart.
And you know you’re Walking With God to A Place of Quiet Rest.

~~Diane Aro

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IMG_1106Diane is a mother, a writer, a poet, a kind, brilliant and resilient woman. We’ve been friends for over 37 years and have prayed for each other as unthinkably crushing things have come to our lives.

Her compassionate, unique and insightful poem made me cry.

The wonder of books. The love of friends. The beauty of creation. The comfort of God’s Word. The gift of family. The presence of God.

These are the things that undergird me these days…

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