Saturday, June 28, 2014

Somber Saturday...

It's been a while since I've posted anything and for that, I apologize.  It is probably something I need to dig deeper into, but that's for another time and another blog post.  This evening.. well, my heart has been heavy and I'm feeling compelled to write.

The rain is falling steadily with regular flashes of lightening and rolls of thunder.  We really don't need anymore rain right now with all the flooding we've had around Minnesota, but tonight, it feels right.  I'm in a sad, somber mood and it feels like God has sympathy.  You see, even though Jesus is rejoicing with His saints, we are mourning the loss of that bright light that is gone from this world.  This morning, Mike and I, celebrated the life of one of our dear friends, Rev. Dr. (was that the right order?) Gary Downing.  Gary Didn't want to call himself a Christian, but instead, was a self-professed "Friend-Maker for God" and lived his life to do exactly that.

One of the things that really struck me this morning was the legacy that was left behind.  Gary was always a man that was intentional with building relationships.  It is through building intentional relationships with other people, we can introduce them to the living Jesus.  We can show them that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in us through our words, actions, and even our mistakes and how we deal with them.  I always thought I understood what Gary meant when he said he was a Friend-maker for God, but today, Gary imparted a last bit of his great wisdom in me.

"Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.  Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ.  God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making  his appeal through us.  We plead on Christ's behalf: let God change you from enemies  into his friends! Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.
In our work together with God, then, we beg you who have received God's grace not to let it be wasted.  Hear what God says:
 "When the time came for me to show you favor, I heard you;  when the day arrived for me to save you, I helped you."
Listen! This is the hour to receive God's favor; today is the day to be saved!"
2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2 (Good News Bible Translation) 
 Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 

This is what it means to be a Friend-maker for God and this is truly how Gary lived his life.  He lived his life to "Make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Christ."

Thank you, my friend, for even in death, you are teaching me still.  I am so thankful that we are a people of hope and I know I will see you again in Glory. I will cherish the friendship that you and Kathy gave to our family and hold tight to the lessons you taught us. Go in peace, my friend, and rest in the loving arms of your best friend and Savior, Jesus Christ.








Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday, Sunday!

This morning Mike and I decided to play hooky from church and to take Nate and Rachael out for breakfast instead.  It's not something that we do very often, but for some reason, decided to brave the sub-zero weather and go to Cheap Charlie's for breakfast.  We had grand plans to do grocery shopping and get some errands run while we were out, except we forgot the list so that had to wait.

Cheap Charlie's is one of those hole-in-the-wall, greasy spoon café's that if you weren't a local, you would pass it by as looking sketchy.
The food is good and you get a lot of it!  Rachael ordered a pancake and sausage links.  The pancake was bigger then her plate and she got 4 sausage links.  The rest of us had omelets.  

Anyway, after we were done, we came home to drop off the kids and get the shopping list.  Nathan and Rachael had no desire to go shopping and that was just fine with Mike and I!  

Since Mike has started running three years ago, he likes to subscribe to Runners Magazine.  Ever so often, he'll rip out recipes that look good to him.  Sometimes we'll try them right away and sometimes he'll misplace them and find them later.  He had happened to find a recipe that he had ripped out of the August 2011 magazine and asked that I make it. It was fantastic!  Mike actually commented as we were eating that I should've played with this one.  What??  Played with it?  Then he explained that I should've taken pictures as I was making it because it was too good not to share.  Gee.. Glad he appreciates my efforts!

So, unfortunately, I did not "play with it" while I was cooking.  I did, however, take a picture of it.  I even dirtied another bowl to make it pretty!  I'm such a girl!

So, here it is:

Not only is it pretty, it is pretty healthy!  The recipe comes from Runners Magazine, August 2011 and credited to chef, Rocco DiSpirito.

Tortilla Soup with Avocado
serves 4

1 1/2 corn tortillas
2/3 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth (I just used the whole can)
1 cup canned, diced fire-roasted tomatoes (again, I used the whole can)
2 chipotle chiles in abodo sauce, chopped fine
2/3 cup store-bought hot fresh salsa (I used medium, jarred salsa because it was what I had)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup cooked skinless chicken breast, shredded
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 ripe Haas avocado (but only Mike and I like avocado so it wasn't divided equally)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (and I just realized I forgot to use this.. Oops!)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut the tortillas into 1/4-inch-wide strips.  Place in a single layer on the baking sheet; bake until golden and crisp, about nine minutes.  Combine the chicken broth, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and corn in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes.  Shred the chicken and stir into the soup.  Season with salt and pepper.  Chill in the refrigerator if serving cold (we did not, too cold outside for cold soup!) Ladle the soup into four bowls.  Top each with avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips.

CALORIES PER SERVING: 142 CARBS: 20 G FIBER: 3 G PROTEIN 12 G FAT: 3 G


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Birthday Season has Begun!

So I know it's been entirely too long since my last post about anything and that's been weighing a little heavy on my mind.  Been thinking that I should maybe do an update.

Christmas is over, the New Year has begun.  It's the holiday drought now until Easter, right?  Or at least Valentine's Day.  Yeah, no.  Not at the Peterson house!  Birthday Season has officially begun.  Nathan's birthday is today.  He's 15 years old.  15 years old???? How in the world did that happen?  I remember driving to the hospital dark and early that very cold, blustery morning 15 years ago excited, knowing that within a few hours, I'd be holding my brand new, sweet, little baby.  Now he's an ornery teenager! Love him, though, and wouldn't trade him for all the tea in China.

Starting today and ending on February 13, we have four out of the five Petersons will celebrate a birthday.  Birthday Season has begun.

So... in honor of Nate's birthday (and because he has requested it, because it's his absolute FAVORITE soup!) I have made Chicken Wild Rice soup.  It's one of those super-secret family recipes, but I don't think my mom will mind me sharing it (Thanks, Mom!) I was blessed with a fantastic cook of a mother growing up and this one was a favorite of mine as a kid.

So here is the cast of characters.
 I forgot to add the chicken broth and onions in the original picture and I ended up doubling it so there will be left-overs.  This is a soup that freezes wonderfully.  Just know that when you're looking at the pictures, it's the doubled amount.  I'll post the original recipe at the end.

Cook the chicken.  I usually boil it, but if you have some left-over chicken, you can use that.  I've never used canned chicken, but I suppose that would work, too. Cube it up and set it aside to add as you're putting the soup together.

I don't buy the canned wild rice.  You could and use extra water in the soup, but the rice "broth" adds such a nice flavor that it's worth the extra work.  Do it.  Trust me, it's worth it!

Rinse the wild rice and heat up a tablespoon of oil in a frypan and add the rice.  You're going to want to keep an eye on it.  You want to sauté the rice until it starts to "pop".  Wild rice has such a tough outer husk that you want to pop it so that it can absorb liquid.  It should go from looking like this:
To looking like this:
And here's a close-up.  Isn't it pretty?
When the rice is done popping, put it in a sauce pan with 4 cups of water.  Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.  You don't want to cook it all the way, but you want to let it absorb quite a bit of the water.  Add about a teaspoon or so of salt to the water for flavor.
While the rice is simmering, peel the carrots and slice the carrots and celery into thin slices.  Dice up the onion.
Melt the butter in a stockpot (I did it in a bigger frypan because I put the soup in a crockpot) and add the veggies.  While the vegetables are sautéing, heat up the chicken broth. When the onions are translucent, slowly add 1/2 cup of flour and stir into the vegetable mixture to create a roux mixture and let it cook for about 5 minutes to cook out the flour taste.   Slowly add in the hot chicken broth and the reserved rice water  and allow the mixture to thicken slightly.

After the soup has thickened, add the 1/2 & 1/2 (I used half 1/2 & 1/2 and half skim milk, if you're feeling really decadent go ahead and go all out with the 1/2 & 1/2!). Blend well and add rice, chicken, rosemary and salt/pepper to taste.  Simmer another 20 minutes.  

When it's done, it is thick and chunky and full of all sorts of rib-sticking goodness!  We usually have it with some fresh bread.  Carbs galore!
We also get to have it with birthday cake tonight... Yum!  Birthday cake AND ice cream.  I mean.. what's a birthday without cake?
Yea cake!  And happy birthday to my 15-year-old.  You're the greatest, Nate!
This was taken at Christmas and those are NOT my dogs!  Two belong to my mom and dad and the other two to my sister.  We were surrounded by little white fluff balls at Christmas, but it was a great picture taken by my sister. Probably my current favorite of Nate!  Happy Birthday!

Shoot.. realized that I forgot to add the recipe at the end of the post!  Here it is:

Mom's Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup
3/4 C. uncooked wild rice
1 T. vegetable oil
4 C. water
1 t. salt
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. flour
3 C. chicken broth
2 C. half & half
3/4-1 C. diced chicken
1/8 t. rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse rice and sauté in the vegetable oil until it starts to "pop".  Add rice to a saucepan with water and salt and simmer until nearly done, about 30 minutes.  Reserve 1 1/2 C. of the rice liquid.  

In large kettle, melt butter and sauté onion, celery and carrot until the onion is translucent.  Reduce heat.  Thoroughly, blend in flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  With wire whisk, blend in hot chicken broth and rice liquid.  Allow to thicken slightly.  Add half & half, blending well.  Add rice, chicken, salt, pepper, and rosemary and simmer another 20 minutes.  

This freezes well and makes amazing left-overs!



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Not my plans for the weekend!


I don't know how many of you know me from Facebook, but I've noticed that I've gotten a few more followers and sorry to say, I don't recognize all the names.  I feel so blessed that you have chosen to read my blog for whatever reason.  I do this both so that I can have an outlet and I pray that I can be an inspiration to those who read it.  I've said from the beginning, if I can do it, anyone can.  I'm just an ordinary woman trying to live a life in God's grace.

This past weekend was an absolutely beautiful weekend in Southeastern Minnesota.  Highs in the low 70's, clear blue skies.  One of those weekends where you just want to squeeze every ounce out.  Once of those weekends where you want to stay out as long as you can because you can smell Fall on the horizon and know that there are not going to be too many of these types of weekends left before snow starts to fly.  We had plans.  I had a meeting in Albert Lea that was supposed to be all day on Saturday and Mike was going to take Nate and Rachael with a friend back to New Ulm to bring a U-Haul truck back with the rest of the furniture from his dad's house so that we can be ready to close at the end of the month.  Sunday we were hoping to go on a long bike ride and enjoy the day before school started for Rachael on Monday.  Good plans right?  Not His plans!

Friday morning I went about the morning.  Worked on budget stuff (which I hate, HATE doing, but it needs to be done, right?) and about 12:30 went to make some lunch for Rachael and I.  As I was standing at the counter I felt a sharp, twingy pain shoot through the right side of my lower back.  I remember thinking it was strange and tried to stretch it out a bit.  Wondered what I had done to pull a muscle.  Finished making lunch and sat down to eat and got one bite and the sharp twinge turned into a shooting stab that took my breath away.  It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, it hurt to pace.  I went and laid on my tummy on the couch hoping it would go away.  Laid there for about 30 minutes and it faded a bit.  Sat down at the table again and finished my lunch and it hit me again.  I went to the bathroom and lost my lunch and grabbed the heating pad.  Back to the couch I went again and texted my husband to tell him I wasn't going to be able to get to the store like I had planned.

This time, it didn't get better.  I was moaning and crying. I just couldn't help myself.  The dog was freaking out, my 5-year-old was kicking into "mommy"-mode and as much as I hate to admit it... I wasn't being patient and I wasn't being helpful.  I'm sure she was scared because I knew I was.  It kept getting worse and I finally went to the computer and texted my husband because he wasn't answering his phone.  He's been incredibly busy and this doesn't surprise me.  Being that he works on a computer all day, I knew he'd get the message.  I simply wrote, "I need you to come home and take me to the hospital."  He was home within 1/2 hour. 

In the ER, it was taking everything I had to hold myself together and not make a lot of noise.  Mike was trying to distract Rachael as I sat on the edge of my chair rocking and quietly moaning.  It was a busy afternoon at the Olmsted Hospital Emergency Room, but they got me back within 1/2 hour and hooked up to an IV with pain meds shortly after that.  Went back for a CT scan and suspicions were confirmed. I had a kidney stone. I got back to my area in the ER and the doctor came in to talk to me.  He said that he could send me home to manage the pain there (it wasn't being managed at this point) or they could admit me.  I told him he was the doctor, what would he suggest.  He suggested staying overnight until pain control could be established.  So Friday night, I was admitted to the hospital.

Now, it's interesting.  I have heard that kidney stones are one of the most painful things that a person can have happen.   I certainly know that they are the most painful thing I have had happen to me.  The pain never did become completely manageable.  I was on high doses of Fentanyl hourly.  100 mcg/shot and that only dulled the pain to a 3-4.  All night Friday, they were giving me shots in the IV hourly.  I didn't sleep, I'm sure those in the rooms around me didn't sleep.  I felt like a wimp.  I felt defeated.  Saturday morning, they gave me a pump so that I could self-administer the Fentanyl.  This helped!  10 mcg every 5 minutes as needed between oral doses of oxycodone seemed to be making it manageable.  Unfortunately, they can't send you home with a PCA pump so another night at the hospital it was.

My biggest fear was going to sleep and to wake up in agony because you can't push the pump when you're sleeping.  I was assured it would be ok and finally drifted off to sleep at about 8:30.  Around 10 p.m. I woke up.  It's funny when you wake up in that kind of situation because your brain immediately does an assessment.  "Ok.  In the hospital.  How am I feeling.... Oh yeah, there's' pain.  How bad is it?  Oh.. not good!" I started pounding on my pump and hitting the nurse call button for help.  Unfortunately, 10 mcg every 5 minutes doesn't put a dent in the pain and was not due for my oxycodone for another 45 minutes.  I was told until they could get a hold of the doctor on call, there is nothing that could be done.

So what do I do?  I'm curled up in the fetal position crying and moaning and I hear a small, quiet voice in my head.... "Call on me.  I am strong enough.  I can handle this.  Give it to me."

So that is what I did.  "Jesus help me.  God take this from me.  Help me through this.  Give me strength.  I give this to you. You are strong enough. I can't do this without you." became my mantra.  Over and over again.  Maybe not those exact words, but pretty close.  While He didn't take my pain from me, somehow, time seemed to go faster and it did get more bearable.  I wish I could say it was the only time it happened, but it wasn't.  I was in the hospital until Monday morning when I finally passed that little devil of a stone and the pain was never completely under control.  I think this happened at least three more times, maybe four, but I found that when I called on Jesus, the time went faster and it was easier to handle the pain.

Jesus was my Rock.  I could feel His arms around me as I sat and moaned and rocked back and forth.  He was my Comforter.  The funny thing is, is that He wants to be all these things when times are good, too!  He wants to rejoice with us as well as cry with us.  He wants dance with us as well as lay down with us.  He wants to be our confidante.  He wants to be our Friend.  How easy it is to call upon us when things aren't going so well, but then to turn around and forget when things are going our way.

Take a moment.  Take a moment and thank Him for all that you have.  Thank Him for the little things.  The things you take for granted.  Thank you for the things that trouble you.  Thank Him for everything because without Him, we would have nothing.

So as strange as it might sound, I thank him for the pain I had over the weekend as well as the soreness and tenderness that I have as I recover because it reminds me that I have life!  It reminds me that I do have so many things to be thankful for.  Thank you, Jesus, for it all.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Peace or band-aids?

Sometimes a Bible verse touches you in ways you don't expect.  This morning, Mike and I were doing our devotion and the verse was "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 8:11) and tears started welling in my eyes, because I understand.  This has happened to me and, unfortunately, I have done it to others.

People who are hurting deeply know when they're being placated.  Patting someone on the back with a, "There, there, it's going to be alright." because it makes you feel better isn't helping that person experiencing pain.  Yes, it is going to be alright.  With God's help, everything will be alright, but that pain, that hurt, and eventually, that scar are all real and they ache.  

I remember back when we were hurting so badly because it felt as though we'd been tossed out by our ear by the church we so loved we got lots of cards and a few flowers.  Because it was so sudden and quietly done, people didn't know what to do.  While we appreciated the sentiments, what meant the most was the few people that walked alongside us.  Those that lifted us up and let us lean on them for support. Those that lifted us up in prayer and prayed with us.  We were broken, shattered and limping.  We are still healing and sometimes, when it feels as though it's all better, a little reminder comes along to remind you of the scar that remains. 

Some wounds are serious.  Some wounds require more then a band-aid and pat on the back.  Some wounds have cut so deep that it takes a Healer to mend them.  They take time and they take love and they take forgiveness.  They take Jesus.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says it well, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths."  

Some versions say, "he will make your paths straight." but I tend to like the "direct your paths." because the path is not always straight.  It's not always even.  There is going to be stumbling blocks and side tracks, but He will direct it.  God will show you the path, He will put people in your path that will help you on your journey, but you need to trust Him instead of yourself.  I know the times that I've tried to rely on myself are the times I've been led down the wrong path. You have to have trust in the Lord.  Do you trust Him?  Are you willing to let Him direct your path?  Are you willing to let Him heal your heart?  It's not an easy choice.  It's not a choice that normally goes along with societal norms, but it us one that has great satisfaction.  When I have trusted God, I have known rest and peace.  It's a path that leads to restoration instead of band-aids.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I want to ride my bicycle...

Like most people, I've grown up knowing how to ride a bicycle.  I don't even remember when I learned, that memory is gone, but, as a child, one of my best memories is going on bike rides after dinner with my dad.  We would bike all over.  Through the neighborhood, around the lakes, everywhere.  In the summer, it would be multiple times a week that we would go on a bike ride.  As I got older, my bike was my main form of transportation for 3 seasons out of the year.  It was nothing for me to get on my bike and go across town to visit a friend or to pack a lunch and take off for the day to wherever my bicycle would take me.  I had baskets over my rear wheels and a little dog who used to love to go on bike rides with me.  I'd line the basket with a towel or blanket and Sassy would go for a ride.  The looks we would get cruising around town!  Of course, this was the same dog that used to love to go to the park and go down slides!  She was an awesome dog!

So I digress.  After I went to college and got married, my bike got dusty.  My family grew and my bike sat neglected.  When we bought our first house, I got a new bike with the best intentions to start riding again.  I even got one of those little trailers for Nathan, but I don't think we made it further then around our little neighborhood.  The bike sat in the rafters for years and years until this past summer. 

In the past month, I decided I wanted to start riding again.  Mike had started riding his bike again, we had just bought Nate a new bike (he had outgrown his) and Rachael was learning how to ride hers.  It was time.  Down came the bike and we looked it over.  After hanging in the rafters for more years than I care to remember, we realized that it needed some TLC and off it went to Erik's Bike Shop.  It cost nearly as much as the bicycle to get it ready to ride, but it was ready.  Then, I realized I needed a helmet.  I suppose if we require our children to wear a helmet, I needed one too, right?  Bought a stylin' helmet, got a rack for the vehicles, and got the old hitches (that were rusted in!) out of the receivers. (Ask Nate about his THOR hammer!)  Nathan, the great big brother that he is, took it upon himself to get his sister riding without her training wheels and did a fantastic job.  We didn't realize how good she was until we went for our first ride together.

This past Wednesday was the day.  Nate didn't go, but we packed up Rachael's bike into the back (it's too small for the rack) and off we went.  Not knowing how well she was able to ride her bike, we decided we had better go on a path that was less traveled and wouldn't result in her careening into a body of water.  Mike decided that Mayowood was the bike path we were going to try first and off we went.  Rachael did fantastic.  She was able to keep up, she had great path etiquette, and was enthusiastic.  Her big fear had been going up hills, but she got past it and was having a grand time. 

Until.... until... well, there was a bridge involved and we all know how bridges go up and come down.  She ended up having to walk her bike to the crest of the bridge and as we were coming back down things were speeding up and all of a sudden I hear her start squealing.  Not a happy squeal, but an, "Oh no!" panicked sort of squeal.  Down the hill and around the corner I see that the trail is about to branch off and I holler to Mike to watch out (he's hearing her squeal too!) and poor Rachael, can't think fast enough continues to go straight squealing all the way.  I can't help it, I realize she's not going to get hurt (it's tall grass) and start giggling.  It was pretty funny!  She in the grass and topples to the side in the tall grass.  I have pictures, not of the actual careening into the grass, but the aftermath:

 But my little trooper got up and started going again.  She wasn't going to let some tall grass get in her way!  BTW, that unicorn helmet?  Her pride and joy!  It cracks me up every time I see it because it's so goofy looking.  She loves it, though, and her 5-year-old friends are all just a wee bit jealous of it!  Gotta love 5-year-olds!

The next day my legs hurt so bad!  I had muscles aching that I didn't realize were there!  Did I let that stop me?  Nope!  Mike and I went on a date last night.  Nathan encouraged it.  I guess I was a little crabby yesterday.  Oops!  We went out for dinner and went on a bike ride.  We were able to go quite a bit faster and further without Little Miss along and it was a blast.  We rode almost 6 miles and I'm realizing that I've missed this!  I've missed getting on my bike and feeling the wind on my face.  We're planning on going to Winona tomorrow after church to take Ty a few things he needs and we're taking the bikes along.  It's going to be fun to discover all the paths around SE Minnesota! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What have I gotten myself into???

I meant to write about this earlier, but it's been a busy week and I just haven't gotten around to it.  Finally have a few minutes today.  Well, I should be downstairs folding laundry or sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor or... well, you catch my drift!

So, before I wondered off on that little sidetrack, what I was going to write about!  Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or actually know me in person, probably already know this, but I'm going to retell the story anyway.  You know, the whole "my blog, my rules" thing!

Sheesh.. back on track.  Ok, then.  BLARGH! Back in the beginning of July, my younger sister, Megan called me.  She lives in Miami (yes, Florida.  Much different then Minnesota!) and offered a trip down to visit her toward the end of January as a birthday gift.  Hmm... Florida in January with no kids?  Sounds like a little slice of heaven to me!  Except, she had a proposition (darned lawyers and their propositions... or is that English teachers?) She wanted to know if I would be willing to walk a 1/2 marathon with her.  In Miami and in January.  That's 13.1 miles.  THIRTEEN MILES!  For someone who hasn't been able to walk 2 miles in a long time, that seems like a LONG ways!  Heck.. it IS a long way!

This was before surgery, but I had already lost a significant amount of weight at this point.  Megan told me to think about it and get back to her.  Well, fast forward about 6 weeks.  I can walk about 2 miles comfortable now and still thinking that Miami in January with no kids is so very enticing and after talking about it with Mike and figuring out schedules, we figured out it would work.  I also figured it'd be a good way to keep up with the exercise to help continue the weight loss, so a win-win, right?   I wrote on her Facebook page last Monday night "I'm in".  Tuesday morning by 10 a.m. she had our registrations in and was asking me about flights.  *gulp*  She wasn't giving me any wiggle room to back out of this one!

So.  Yours truly is headed to Miami to WALK the ING Half Marathon on January 27, 2013.  I'm nervous.  I'm a little scared, but I'm pretty excited and I'll probably cry when I finish it.  Thank you, Megan, for the challenge!