Friday, September 25, 2009

The Surface of Life

The surface of life: the morning routine; the evening routine; science tests; math tests; choir appointments; piano appointments; nannying appointments; errands; waking the boys up with a nice, sweet smile in the morning; helping them when something in school "just doesn't make sense"; homework to be done; sermons to be burnt to cds, etc., etc., etc.

Greetings from the Tea Table! That is this past week's "surface of life." Ben Miller, in this sermon (did I mention that I've over and over recommended this sermon again and again?) gives a list of things that make up the surface of our lives. And this is the rest of the sermon in a nut shell:

"Many dark and disturbing thoughts are apt to arise in this thing. Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds. All here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch they know not. This is the will of God, that he may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. This is that which Christ came to reveal, — God as a Father..."

~ John Owen, from Communion with God the Father

"Attempting to comprehend the depths of this love, one may compare [Zephaniah 3:16-17] this Old Testament version of John 3:16 to a child on the seashore, digging a sandy trench to the limitless expanses of the ocean. The child stretches out her arms to gather the ocean's depths into her shallow pool."

~ O. Palmer Robertson

"Dig the trench, brethren."

The surface of life becomes life in the Kingdom when we are so suffused with the love of our Father in Heaven that everything we say, everything we touch, everything we feel is motivated by that great love. He's our Father! So this week's "surface" is all part of the path that we're walkin' on. We're walkin' with the King. Learnin' to love Him and to know how much He loves us. Strivin' to love our neighbor...extravagantly! Yearning for the day when our faith shall be made sight. We're children of a great King and that thought changes everything about us. We're not just so privileged to be slaves in His house; to pick up the trash on His grounds. We're sons! We're heirs to the Kingdom. We're ruling and reigning with Him in heaven. We're seated in heavenly places. We're robed in righteousness. We're set at His right hand. And He cannot fail. He will get us to heaven as surely as Christ rose and conquered death, He will get us to heaven!

"Oh for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer's praise!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Begone Unbelief

This is my new favorite song. I have those every once in a while. My newest favorite hymn that we sing at Redeemer is Jesus Your Blood and Righteousness (though, I still love so many hymns. Check out I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art for example). My new favorite hymn that we don't sing at Redeemer is A Debtor to Mercy Alone. I think I'm gonna have to post those words on my mirror. What a great hymn! And this is my new favorite song that...well...I suppose it is a hymn, but it's not in our hymnal and I had never heard of it before this:

We have a friend that we know from our seminary days. She is a very gifted musician. Daddy and I love her voice and she also has some great guitar and piano music...not to mention lyrics. We love her music! While we were in seminary she made a cd, Remember Your Creator. We have listened to that cd so. many. times. It's awesome! After all these years and I still can't pick a favorite song. That's sayin' a lot for me. We have been "patiently" waiting for her to make a new cd (Mrs. Sealy, we have some suggestions if you're not sure what should be on it :) and in the meantime have been enjoying her on YouTube. This song is outstanding. You can see that (as of right now) there have been 266 views...probably 75 of those are me :)

Did you go and listen to it? Oh good. Now come on, tell me you have chills all over?

Most of what she has on YouTube are her variations on old hymns so after you melt over that song you can go listen to God Moves in a Mysterious Way and Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness. These are my other two favorites that she has on YouTube.

A Debtor to Mercy Alone

I have recently fallen in love with Augustus Toplady's hymn A Debtor to Mercy Alone. We never sing it at Redeemer because it doesn't have a great tune, but man, the words are awesome. I love the end: the saints in heaven are more happy than we here on this weary pilgrimage to the Land, but they are not more secure than we! Oh! Precious, precious promises to sin-sick pilgrims longing for the day.

A Debtor to Mercy Alone
by Augustus M. Toplady

A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on, my person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which His goodness began, the arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen, and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now, nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo, or sever my soul from His love.

My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heav’n.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fifth Sunday Recipes

Ah...Talk Time! It's been a long time since I've shared anything Talk Time Things on here. We just wanted you all to take every opportunity to laugh really, really hard at my "english" accent on our Pride and Prejudice video. So we left it as the top post for a while.

The other thing is that I'm still trying as hard as I can to get Lily to post our slide show. You can tell we've been best friends for a long time when even my persuasive powers have no effect. So, perhaps I'll just guilt her all the way through this post and she'll feel so bad that it's been a month since our vacation together and she still hasn't posted all our great pictures.

Ok, but actually this post is regarding my fifth Sunday recipes. And as you know by now, I don't believe in having "a few" people over. That was difficult this time because half the church was at the beach and half of what was left at Redeemer was not able to come to the Blair's for lunch. So I sort-a pieced it together on Sunday morning. And I still managed to get 17 of us to lunch on Sunday afternoon! Sweet deal!

So here are the recipes~

One of my most favorite recipes:

Cayenne Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Hass avocado, pitted and cut into chunks

(Of course I had to quintuple this recipe because this only serves 4)

In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne; rub all over chicken.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa. Enjoy!

(Lily, everyone reading this post is really wishing that they were watching the slide show right now instead of reading my boring recipes)

Mashed Potatoes
(this recipe is from a lady in our church)

5 pounds potatoes
1 package cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/8 cup dried chives, chopped (or scallions are fine, too)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350. Cook potatoes. Drain and add the cream cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, garlic, and chives. Mash. Spoon into greased 9x13' pan. Sprinkle paprika and small cubes of butter over the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy!

These potatoes are outstanding. I love mashed potatoes. Well, ok, I love potatoes, but I really love mashed potatoes and these are where it's at. And the awesome thing is that you can make them on Saturday and put them in the fridge and then when you get home from church on Sunday just put them in the oven for 30 minutes while you get everything else ready and you're set! Sweet!

(Man, I sure do wish there was a slide show to watch.)

Almost No-Knead Bread
from Cooks Illustrated (with some "fine-tuning" from Mama)
makes 1 large round loaf (I made 2)

3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus the additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1.5 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) mild-flavored lager
1 tablespoon white vinegar (if you accidentally use white wine vinegar that works too...I know)

Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula,fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. (It really does need to sit for at least 12 hours...Mama found out the hard (meaning, "the bread doesn't taste very good") way.

Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray (we never spray the paper). Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times . Shape dough into ball by pulling edges unto middle. Transfer dough, seam side up, to well-floured cloth. Wrap up in cloth. Let rise at room temperature until doubled (about 2 hours).

About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place covered iron skillet on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Carefully remove pan from oven. Flip bread into pan so it is seam side down. Replace lid. Place in oven. Reduce heat to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Carefully remove bread from post; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. (it's also really yummy served warm). Enjoy!

(Can you believe that we actually went to all the trouble of coordinating our outfits for pictures and Lily won't even post them? I tell ya...)


red and orange bell peppers

Mix in a salad bowl. Wow! That's hard :)


Ketchup Salad Dressing

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup sugar

Mix well. Refrigerate. Enjoy!


Buttermilk Salad Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2-3 drops hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
Worcestershire sauce or other seasoned sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons sugar

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Store in refrigerator. Snipped parsley or crumbled Roquefort or blue cheese may be added. (I added Parmesan).

(Seriously, we're losing readers because they were promised lots of pictures and they've got nothin'. They think we're a bunch of liars. They probably think we didn't even take pictures. I mean, how would they know?)

Fruit Salad

green grapes

Cut and mix in a bowl. And I have to say that the color combination of my fruit was really pretty. I highly recommend those fruits together :)

(I know you guys really want to see all four of us falling of the hammock. Of course you do. Who would want to miss that? Ya know, if Lily would post those pictures then you could see. But until then...Brownie Sundaes is all I've got for ya...)

And dessert:

Brownie Sundaes! I can't help it if ice cream is on sale every time I cook for a fifth Sunday :)

from Perfect Recipes for Having People Over
makes 18 brownies

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon slat
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut or broken into small chunks
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut or broken into small chunks
2.5 sticks unsalted butter
2.5 cups sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a disposable or regular 13x9 inch baking pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving an overhang on two long sides to facilitate removal of brownies. Spray pan with vegetable cooking spray.

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. (not too far aside, might forget to mix them into the me, I know :)

Melt chocolates and butter in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and stir until mixture turns from grainy-looking to smooth and glossy.

Stir in dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with wet crumbs, about 40 minutes. Cool brownies in pan for 5 minutes, then use foil to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

For Hot Fudge Sauce

1 bag of chocolate chips
cream until chocolate chips are mostly covered.

Put on medium-low heat and stir until melted.

Whipped Cream is pretty self-explanatory:

Pour heavy cream into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until firm peaks form.

Ice cream made possible by the Harris Teeter Foundation, compliments of Breyers Dairy Products.

Until next time...

(it'll probably be the next fifth Sunday before Lily posts the slide show...)

To the King!