Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When They are Really Us

Sunday evening we're watching, (for the first time), The Bible series on the History channel because everyone keeps mentioning it: the ninja angels, that heavy cloaked satan looking just a little familiar, and I am intrigued by it finally. 

Daughter and husband are watching it, even sons wander in and out, taking homework breaks from chemistry, biology and geometry.  It's a fast forward to Jerusalem by way of Jesus' 40 days in the desert while tempted by satan, his baptism by cousin John, his miraculous healings, Matthew walking away from tax collecting to join him, Simon Peter {almost} walking on water, his tears over Lazarus, his feeding 5,000 followers on a hillside, Nicodemus questioning a nighttime trial. It depicts Palm Sunday where cheers follow Jesus into Jerusalem on the donkey, knowing that hateful jeers are just days away.  A nighttime upper room where Jesus institutes communion on Maundy Thursday where  Judas hurries away, desperately hopeful that turning him over to religious authorities might finally propel Jesus to start the revolution Judas believes he has come for.

And that moment when the guard's ear is slashed off in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus heals it, that moment is when daughter feels queasy and says, "I can't watch what's coming.  It will give me nightmares.  What they do to him is scary."  Her words hit me like a ton of bricks, what "they" do to him is scary, will give her nightmares.  But it's not "they."  It's collective us.  We were right there.  We spat on him, we whipped him, we crushed a crown of thorns deeply into his precious head, we jeered hateful  ugly words at him, we laughed at and mocked him, we lustily shouted, "Crucify Him!"  We {{are}} "they," that angry mob, hungry to see him get what we thought he deserved nailed on that cross on Golgotha.  The series ended promising his cruxifiction and resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Daughter brushed teeth, removed contact lenses and climbed into bed, ready for a tuck-in and bedtime prayer.  And I was still pondering her words carefully.

I sat in the dark on her bed after she chose to recite the Lord's Prayer over "People Prayers." (Where she blesses and prays for people in her life by name.)  And I quietly explained to her that although it's hard to watch, (and oh boy... is it ever), it's visceral, it's vitriolic, but it's vital and if it doesn't cause tears to flow freely, I'm not sure what will.  That cruxifiction is something we Christians desperately need to be reminded of.  Otherwise, how do we experience true joy on Easter morning?  True joy is not a chocolate bunny delivered in decorative plastic grass in a woven basket by a furry bunny.  True joy isn't jelly beans well hidden in a plastic egg in a backyard blooming shrub by droopy daffodils.  True joy isn't in the delicious first bite of honeyed ham and great-Grandma Douglas' recipe for potato salad and great-Grandma Thaxton's decadent cinnamon pecan rolls.  If any of that were true joy, we'd all be lost the minute after it all ended.  Thankfully all of the above is purely simple everyday joy.

But true joy?  True joy is found in the release of comprehending that what he went through is done.  It is finished.  Once for all, forever.  And I explain the concept of "we" being "they" to her.  She is shocked.  She protests that she would never have done that to him, she would never have said those things to him if she had lived back then, had a chance to walk and talk with him.  But Simon Peter did and he was a true friend, a true follower.  He did not once, but three times.  And if he did, then I surely would, we surely would have despite our best intentions.  And there it is right there! I did.  We did.  That was us right there, requesting Barabbas' release instead of an innocent Jesus.  And how great was Jesus' love for us, even knowing he could come down from that cross, but choosing NOT to?  Choosing to remain there and finish it for us.  That gift he gave us cannot ever be scary or cause us nightmares.  That gift has to remain a vivid picture on Good Friday so that true joy can be ours on Easter Sunday.  I remind her that her GOD is strong enough to take all that on: all of our hate, all of our sins, all of that pain we inflicted mightily on him, all of that humiliation we slapped on him, tried to crush and kill him with.

And yet, he continued to love us.  Not to merely like us luke-warmly, but love us deeply like a tender shepherd takes care of each and every one of the sheep in his flock.  That is the God I want on my side.  That is the God I want to protect me.  That is the God worth waiting on -- for answers, for blessings, for healing, for comfort, for strength, for everything I daily need, in his time.  If he is for us, who or what can frighten us or give us nightmares?  Definitely not satan.  He can try, but he cannot succeed.  If Jesus is for us, we can be assured of true joy.  Not just today. But tomorrow and yesterday too.  Not just when we remember to ask, but always. 

She and I had tears at that point on her bed in the dark.  His pain is painfully poignant, and if doesn't cause tears of undeserved peace, comfort and joy, we need to watch his cruxifiction again this Easter week.  To be reminded of his boundless love on Good Friday and every day.  So we can experience the neverending true joy he extends to us on Easter Sunday and every day.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bang-Bang Shrimp Recipe

I recently pinned a recipe for Bang-Bang Shrimp that we were just drooling to try. It was well worth the time & effort and simply delicious. We easily found the Sriracha garlic-chili sauce and the Panko bread crumbs in the Asian food aisle (at the Food Lion next to the YMCA for my Holly Springs' friends), see photo below for easy recognition.  :)

While making the originally pinned recipe in our kitchen, we took notes and made adjustments. After enjoying the mouth-watering shrimp, my adoring taste-testers, (hubby and teenage sons), sat down with me to do some tweaking so it was even closer to the authentic dish we all dearly {{LoVe}} from the restaurant.  They suggested a little more of this and absolutely none of that. In the end, I think this version is even closer to the original! 

{{Please}} do yourself a favor: Read through the ingredients and the directions before starting. I provided a shopping list at the bottom to copy and paste for your convenience. The directions may look long, but don't be intimidated, I tried to include extra information for first-timers. You'll be making it with just a glance the second time around!

*My advice?  Buy medium-sized raw shrimp. I know what you're going to think because it was my first thought too... If Medium shrimp are good, then Large must be incredible, right? Large end up taking longer to fry and are quite a mouthful. I purchased a 1-lb frozen bag of medium raw shrimp and they worked just fine. We felt they must be the size the restaurant uses.
Use real mayonnaise.  Don't scrimp on taste, texture, to create a really good coating: without real mayonnaise you just can't provide the right flavor, thickness or adhesion.
Do use Japanese Panko bread crumbs. It's their light texture and crispness that you love at the restaurant, so don't scrimp here.

Here's our beloved rendition of the well-loved recipe:

Bang-Bang Shrimp

1 lb Medium Raw Shrimp (Peeled shrimp saves time)
1 carton of Buttermilk (Enough to cover thawed shrimp)

Mix SAUCE ingredients and immediately chill in your refrigerator:

5-6 tsp. Sriracha Sauce, or to taste
1 tsp. white vinegar or rice vinegar
1/2 cup real mayonnaise, (Not Miracle Whip, not olive oil, not reduced fat.)

Mix BREADING ingredients in a large bowl:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

If using frozen shrimp, follow thawing directions carefully, and place shrimp in a large mixing bowl. Cover with buttermilk for 1-2 minutes, then pour shrimp into a large strainer. 
Pour seasoned flour over shrimp and coat each shrimp carefully!  Refrigerate dredged shrimp for 20 minutes, don't skip this part, it helps the coating stay on the shrimp while frying. 
Pour a cup or two of oil into a large skillet (I used a cast iron skillet), carefully allow oil to heat.  (When water flicked onto the surface sizzles, you're ready to fry.) 

Place shrimp in hot oil by hand, (do not crowd them), and fry 2-3 minutes -- and flip.  The key is they should have golden edges, think crispy, or you'll be sorely disappointed with your limp shrimp.  It may require 3 or more batches to fry all shrimp.  Place fried shrimp in a large metal bowl. (Metal because it will conduct heat & keep them warm while you are frying the next batches.)

After all shrimp have been fried, take your well-chilled Sriracha-Mayo sauce out of fridge and pour over hot shrimp. This is important: the chilled sauce over the hot fried shrimp.  Gently fold with a spatula till well-coated. Serve over a bed of chopped romaine lettuce. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions if desired.  Best eaten with chopsticks. :)

1 lb of medium shrimp serves 4 as an appetizer.

Shopping List:
1 lb bag fresh or frozen {{Medium}} peeled shrimp
1 carton buttermilk
1 bottle Sriracha Asian Garlic-Chili Sauce
1 tsp white vinegar or rice vinegar
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
1-2 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 bunch spring onions

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This is a long list but well worth considering. So, grab a cuppa joe or a mug of tea and enjoy.
The 45 Best Lessons that Life Teaches:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good. 2. When in doubt, just take the next small step. 3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. 4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch. 5. Pay off your credit cards every month. 6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to... disagree. 7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone. 8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it. 9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck. 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile. 11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present. 12. It's OK to let your children see you cry. 13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. 14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it. 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks. 16. Take a deep breath It calms the mind. 17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful. 18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger. 19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else. 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer. 21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special. 22. Over prepare, then go with the flow. 23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple. 24. The most important sex organ is the brain. 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you. 26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words :'In five years, will this matter?' 27. Always choose life. 28. Forgive everyone everything. 29. What other people think of you is none of your business. 30. Time heals almost everything. Give time a little time. 31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. 32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does. 33. Believe in miracles. 34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do. 35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now. 36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young. 37. Your children get only one childhood. 38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. 39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere. 40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back. 41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. 42. The best is yet to come... 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up. 44. Yield. 45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift." ~compiled by Regina Brett

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living Well With A Teenage Daughter

I found this online and changed it up, adding quite a bit more wisdom--though I'm sure I won't always be wise while I'm going through it this stage in her life. (We all make mistakes!)  Now keeping right here for daily reference maybe later. Living Well With A TEENAGE Daughter :)

 1) Never engage in a shouting match with her. If she screams, bite your tongue, lower your voice and speak in a voice only slightly above a whisper. If you can’t manage that, tell her quietly that your will discuss the subject with her when you are {{both}} calmer.
2) D...
on't allow her to reduce you to tears. If she's behaving rudely, she needs time alone. Send her to her room or deprive her of a privilege, but don’t allow her to defeat you. You are her mother, not her friend. You will become friends when she becomes an adult. She is not yet an adult. She needs you to guide her by being firm, yet loving and fair.
3) Let her know you love her. Tell her the next time she rages at you that there is nothing she can say that will cause you to stop loving her. You may not like her behavior, but she is your daughter and your love for her is unconditional. (There will be times when she is difficult to love, but remember, you are not lovable all the time either and forgiveness is part of learning how to be an extraordinary woman.)
4) Touch her often. This is important. The power of a loving touch is exquisite. When she’s glued to the TV, a book, her phone, homework or the computer and you pass by her, reach out and pat her. Touch her arm in conversation. Place your arm around her when sitting next to her. Give her lots of hugs every single day and never be put off if she groans or pulls away. Just smile and remember, your love is given to her without any conditions.
5) Try not to criticize. Suggest if you must, but don’t be on her back about every little thing. (She is your daughter, you must allow her to reserve secrets for friends--there are things you share with your friends but would never mention to her. This is part of learning about having and maintaining healthy relationships!) Save your “nos” and “don’ts” for biggies, and see them through, make them stick, don't give in.
6) Listen to her, let her voice her opinions, her thoughts her musings on life. (As unique as a snowflake, she is herself, not a mini you.) No matter what she says, all she wants is for you to love her for who she is.
7.) Pray for her, everyday. Without ceasing. You and her father can not raise her well without your Father's help. He will guide you, comfort you, aid you, because He gave you the gift of her.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dare Greatly

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat. ~Theodore Roosevelt
Wonderfully pleasant weather so we pushed windows down a little last night before bed. Peepers and crickets and toads chorused us off to sleep. There is probably nothing sweeter than lulled into dreamland by those nighttime noises.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Well Hello Again, Guac!

I LOVE guacamole. But Mr. and I are the only ones who'll eat it in our house. (So far.) It doesn't keep well and it's a lot of effort to make for just the two of us, so, I was only making or buying the delicious green guacamole when a crowd was over. UNTIL. I discovered you could snip a tiny corner off a store bought bag. (Like..., Trader Joe's!) And squeeze it on a chip or 5. And it keeps for a WEEK. Or MORE in the fridge that way. Well.... Helloooo, GUAC! Now available just a handful of chips at a time in our house. :d

Of Fish and Frogs

This morning I thought a heavy stick had landed on the protective netting over the koi pond, weighing it under the murky, icy water. I went out to remove it, and discovered not a stick but a frog the size of my fist desperately bouncing on the trampoline-like netting looking for a way in, with two fish watching. (Amused or encouraging?) I rolled up the net & let frog in. (Took 5 minutes of a little cooperation.) Finally in, both fish and frog disappeared into the dark bottom. I came outside to enjoy a little sunshine this afternoon and there are two big froggy eyes surfacing occasionally to spy on me... Wouldn't you love to hear their thoughts?

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Occasionally our Caspian makes a heroic cage break, (always during cage maintenance), and flies through our home making an awkward landing in an unexpected place and then sitting quietly while we look and listen for him. This is his best "hiding spot" since he started this game. ♥