Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quite Possibly the Saddest Day Yet

Today was quite possibly the saddest day I have yet had. As of about noon, I am no longer a pet owner. It is the hardest part of this whole transition! I had to find new homes for my cats. All three of them got to stay together and they went to a wonderful family that I know from church. I know they will be well cared for, will get prayed for and blessed regularly, and will be treated with a great deal of love and respect. It is still so hard, though!

As I was preparing to leave the house with them today, the overwhelming sadness slammed into me like a tidal wave! I couldn't catch my breath! I knew I was doing the right thing, but it just hurt so bad! I felt like Piglet in Winnie the Pooh - "I'm not quite brave enough." I called on the Lord and He answered! He ushered in the strength needed - and even brought in a great deal of peace and some joy. It was still very difficult!

Noelle and Cinnamon transitioned very well! They eased in and found their way through the house. They got acquainted with Obie and Chewie (the two cats that already reside in the house). By the time I left, they were perfectly fine and were acting as if they have always belonged in this place. Truffle has a different tale, however. He was not too happy with the change. He groaned and growled. He didn't want to be in his cage, out of his cage, held, anything...he just wanted to go home! How sad it was for me to try to communicate to him that this was his new home! We finally left him locked in a very small powder room with his ball, carrier, and some water. He seemed ok with that - but still not the happy-go-lucky baby I know him to be. I know he will be fine! It makes me feel so much better to know that at least the girls adjusted well - within moments of entering the house.

I am doing ok. Very sad, but doing well. I know that God is preparing me for a time to focus on learning more about Him and growing in that. He was very faithful to provide a loving home for my babies. He has been faithful to provide peace to me, in the midst of a LOT of change!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stop or Go?

Moving day No.1 is just 5 days away. There are empty boxes stacked up against the wall outside of my bedroom and a smattering of packed boxes here and there in my room. There are stray pieces of furniture that didn't sell at the garage sale in the living room, my bedroom, and in the laundry room. My closet still has clothes in it. My filing cabinet - which is staying where I have been living - is still full. I have 1/3 of my books packed. My movies are packed away, but the box is left open just in case I need something to entertain me while I pack away the rest.

I woke up yesterday morning for work and felt like a load of bricks had fallen all over my body - and I had swallowed a drawer full of knives. I think the stress got to me! I had a horrid headache, my stomach was sick, my throat was very sore, and by all of the joints in my body were stiff and screaming at me for trying to move! I couldn't miss work, so I got ready and showed up. I looked at our PTO log and saw that we had several available spots for the next few days, so I requested some time off! I now have today, tomorrow, and Thursday off. I got home from work yesterday at 3:00 and crashed! I slept hard for a few hours, woke up and made dinner, went back to sleep. I woke up today at about 9:00 - for a total of about 16 hours of sleep. My throat and tummy feel a bit better, but I still have a headache and body ache!

I know I have a TON to do, but I am tempted to just take it easy today so that I feel more like pushing hard tomorrow and Thursday. We'll see what happens! A few days ago, I posted on facebook that my Things to Do list was now 7 pages is now 9! I just keep thinking that once I get moved a HUGE step will be done!! Then I can focus on support letters, meeting with people, and gearing myself up for moving again! =)

At least I now have a wonderful home for my sweet cats! I am blown away by the amazing provision of God in this! A family I know from church offered to take all three of my cats for me! They already have two cats of their own - and a little boy (who is super sweet and adorable!) They are such a sweet family! I know they are going to love and bless my babies so well! I can rest in knowing that they will be well cared for!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Basil Chicken Primavera with Rice Pilaf

I made dinner the other night for a friend who was coming over. Little did I know that meal would end up serving another guest as well. The following night, I fed the left-overs to one of my sisters. Both of them wanted me to write out the recipe and send it to them, so I decided to just post it.

It really isn't too difficult to make. I gave it a medium-high difficulty level only because of the number of ingredients & steps and the multi-tasking. I think most of it is multitasking that is commonplace for dinner time meal prep, though. Please try it and let me know what you think. I am still contemplating making a gluten-free cookbook one of these days. This one would definitely make the entry. It's one of my favorite recipes that I have worked on - and it meets the criteria for not causing migraines or stomach upset for me -- two must haves but hard to finds.

Basil Chicken Primavera with Rice Pilaf

Recipe By: Lynn McClellan
Serves: 4-6 Adults
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 min
Difficulty: Medium-High


1 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Olive Oil
5 Tbsp (1/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp) White Distilled Vinegar
¼ Cup finely chopped Basil (can use dried if fresh is not available)
1 Tbsp Oregano
4 tsp (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) Ground Mustard seed/powder
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Ground Pepper
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (add more for a more spicy dish)
2 tsp Cornstarch – this will give a thicker, less watery sauce in the end

12 chicken strips or 4-6 chicken breast halves
5 Tbsp Butter - unsalted
Olive Oil
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp (a squeeze of the bottle) Honey or Agave Nectar
¾ Onion - chopped
4 Cloves Garlic (you can grate these over the pan instead of chopping to save some time)
¾ of a 16 oz package of mushrooms – cleaned and sliced
1 Zucchini – sliced
1 ½ lbs mixed peppers (Yellow, Red, and Orange) – sliced (Costco sells 2 lb bags of mini
mixed peppers for around $4.00)
2 ½ cups Carrots - grated
1 large can (28 oz) Diced Tomatoes – drain and rinse well

1 ½ Cups Short Grain Brown Rice
¾ Cup Wild Rice
4 ½ cups boiling water or stock (reduce salt if using stock)

3 Tbsp Butter - unsalted
Olive Oil
Spice Pack:

1 Tbsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Ground Pepper
1 Tbsp Basil
1 Tbsp Oregano
2 tsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Rosemary
3 Tbsp Parsley
¼ Onion – chopped
¼ of a 16 oz package of mushrooms – cleaned and sliced
½ Cup Carrots – grated
1 Tbsp (a squeeze of the bottle) Honey or Agave Nectar

This all comes together very nicely – in good timing. You can even make the sauce the night before and leave the chicken to defrost and marinate in it. I definitely recommend marinating the chicken for at least a few hours to develop the flavors well. If you are intimidated to do the whole recipe, try making the rice by itself a time or two before taking on the whole meal.
  1. Make the sauce. You can use a standing blender or handheld blender. Mix all ingredients together and blend until it looks a little creamy and the oil does not separate from the other liquids. The spices should be well incorporated – not “floating” on the sauce. Pour this over the uncooked chicken – set aside to marinate.
  2. Wash all the veggies well and chop/slice. Separate out what will go in the chicken and rice. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan or skillet on Medium heat for chicken/veggies. Melt 5 Tbsp Butter. Add onion and begin cooking down until golden. Grate in Garlic and continue cooking. Add mushrooms and salt. You may need to add a bit of Olive Oil at this point. Let the mushrooms wilt down a bit.
  4. Start to boil the water/stock for the rice in a large pot. In the pan you wish to cook the rice in, heat 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil on Low to Med-Low and add in the rice to toast it. Stir rice mix often so it does not burn.
  5. After the mushrooms have wilted down a bit (about 2 minutes), add in the zucchini, carrots, and honey/agave nectar. Cook together for a couple of minutes. Add in the peppers to start cooking down a bit.
  6. The rice should be toasted and the water should be almost to a boil. Add in the onions and spice pack to the rice and stir well. Add in the mushrooms, carrots, honey/agave nectar and butter. Let the veggies begin to cook bit while you get the chicken in the oven.
  7. Remove veggies from heat and stir in tomatoes. In a large casserole dish, ladle in about 1/3 of the veggies to cover the bottom. Pour in the chicken that has been marinating along with all of the sauce. Cover with remaining veggies. This will go into the hot oven and cook for about 1 hour - until the chicken is fully cooked.
  8. Measure out and pour in 4 ½ cups boiling liquid to the rice pan very carefully! Turn the heat up to high (or move back to the burner the water was boiling on). Once the rice begins to boil, stir and cover. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 45-55 minutes. When the rice is done there will still be a little liquid in it – this is ok. Turn the heat off and let it set until the chicken is done.

Meal Tips:

  1. When making the sauce, add a little bit of the vinegar or OJ to the cornstarch to thin it out before mixing it in with other ingredients. This will help prevent clumps.
  2. When measuring out spices/herbs for the sauce, I find it helpful to go ahead and make the spice pack for the rice pilaf - set it aside and it will be ready when you make the rice.
  3. Have a pot of liquid (water or stock) ready on the stove so that all you have to do is turn on the burner. Have some extra liquid in the pot as some will evaporate away while heating to boil.
  4. Take it slow and enjoy the process! Cooking is fun! =)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dinner Mishaps!

I have two things working against me in making tonight's dinner. This has left me with a small injury.
  1. I am cheap!
  2. I am lazy!

I am making Basil Chicken Primavera, which requires 3 cups of grated carrots. I am cheap! In my kitchen are 2 Costco bags of baby carrots. I am too cheap to spend an extra $3.00 to purchase a bundle of whole carrots to grate. I am certainly too cheap to spend $5.00 on the pre-grated bag of carrots that measures out to right about 3 cups. Given the plethora of carrots currently occupying the refrigerator, I decided to grate baby carrots. FYI: it takes about 25-thousand-million baby carrots to end up with 3 cups, grated. This is where the second part comes in.

I am lazy! I have a food processor. I could get on my hands and knees and dig the food processor (and it's seven necessary parts) out of the cupboard designated for awkward kitchen appliances. That takes effort. Then, after I remember how to put the thing together right and use it for the 20 seconds it would take to grate an entire bag of carrots, I would have to take it apart and wash each of those seven separate pieces. This just seems like too much work!

So, I individually grated baby carrots with a hand-held cheese grater and stopped after skinning my knuckle twice - with about 2 1/2 cups of carrots to use for dinner. Don't worry - no flesh (or blood) made it's way into the carrots. I washed everything very well! But after all of that, I decided that it may have been worth the extra money to just buy the "convenience" bag of pre-grated carrots!

Oh well, at least I now have a legitimate excuse to wear a princess bandage on my finger! =)

No More Secrets!

The last month has been a little hard. It has felt like I have been keeping this huge secret! In every circle I am a part of, I have wanted to just shout out and tell everyone that I am planning to go to Bethel. I haven't been able to because there have been certain people that I didn't want to find out through the grapevine - I wanted to tell them! People like my family, my closest friends, and my pastors. Well, it's summer and that means that everyone is away on vacations and mission trips and this and that. I have been telling people as I can because the time is close and I am making arrangements. Plus, when people looked horribly shocked and make comments like "Something huge must be happening if you're looking for homes for your cats." I feel like telling them anything but the whole truth would be...well...a lie! (Side note here - I haven't been not telling people what's happening. It has just been really important to me that some people find out from me - not someone else - that I am picking up and moving to California!)

I have now spoken with my pastor and church leadership. I have been able to tell my family. I have told almost all of my closest friends - and have let those individuals I haven't been able to meet with know that I have news to tell them. And, as of today I have officially told my supervisor and manager that I will be leaving in the fall. I didn't submit an official resignation, since I still have time, but let them know that I was planning on leaving. I just feel so much more freedom, knowing that I'm not holding this "secret" in. So share away!

Another bonus to me being able to freely share is that more people can be happy for me and rejoice with me! I am so excited about this and I want the people in my life to be excited with me!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Leaps of Faith

I think we all go through seasons in our life where we feel like we are just wandering somewhat aimlessly; despirately searching for where we are supposed to be, what we are supposed to be doing, and just knowing that there is something more around the bend...but where is the bend in a wilderness?

I have been in one of those seasons lately. I have been happy enough, just not fully content in my situation; knowing that the Lord has called me to something more but not knowing what it is. Well, I am overjoyed to say that I feel like I have some answers to many of the questions I have been asking God. He has been speaking them to me for quite some time, but I was too afraid to really listen. I wanted the answer, but had deaf ears. I don't think it has been pointless. In fact, I believe the last year has served me very well! I feel like I have a greater understanding of "walking through fire and not being burned." I feel like I have a greater understanding of what it is to be disciplined in love and mercy, not in anger and fear. I have a greater understanding of my own temperment, personality, needs, and desires. Most of all, I have a more intimate relationship with God! Amazing that all of that can come out of a year of wandering!

So, what is the answer? I'm heading off to another season of schooling! This one much different than the last! (This is all presuming I am accepted - which I would love prayers about!) I am very excited! So much so that I just want my wording here to be perfect, which I know is impossible!

Over the last year, I have spent a lot of time looking at a school of ministry in Redding, California; Bethel ( I have been drawn to what was happening there. Many times I have opened the application and started to fill it out, but have always stopped myself. I didn't feel like it was the right time. What about money? I am in treatment for two chronic health conditions, so I have to have health insurance! I am trying to pay off student loans, not acquire more student debt. It is in freakin' California - that's far from Texas! The list of excuses goes on!

I still feel drawn. In fact, I feel sad about the prospect of not being there - and I haven't even gone! I hear that still voice of the Lord very clearly asking me to submit. He is asking me how long I am going to wait. He has asked me why I haven't already done it. I know it is the right thing. So, I started looking at each of my excuses. The response to each one of them was fear! I am afraid of not being in control! I am afraid of asking for support! I am afraid of going somewhere new! I am afraid of failure! But in the Lord, there is no fear! "For God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

So, the preparations have begun! I am moving out of my current home at the end of the month and will be staying with a family from church until I leave for school in September. I am ready to submit my application. I have my support letter written and just about ready to copy and send out. Both of these actions are just on hold until my pastors to get back from Turkey so I can talk to them about this, get a reccommendation, and have one of them help me finalize the letter. I am trying to find homes for my precious, sweet, adorable kitty cats (call me if you want to foster one of them)! This one is really hard, but even in it I have peace and joy - which helps confirm that this is right.

There is still a lot to do, but God is giving me the grace to take baby steps - very quickly!! It's amazing! Since I made the decision to follow through on this - and actually started taking action - I have had more peace and joy than I have in over a year. Once again, this is not to say that I have been moping around for the last year. I have just known that God was calling me to something new and I wasn't sure what it was. Now I feel like I know and it is great!

If you want to be included in the support and newsletter mailings, please make sure I have your address. Like I said, this is happening faster than I am used to working. Therefore, I know I am missing some people. Just e-mail me and I will make sure you are on the list. And thanks in advance for the prayers and support!