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Monday, April 30, 2012

Chicken Fajitas Don Pablo Style

Way back when Todd and I were newlyweds we could drive half an hour into the big city to eat mexican food quite often [some things don't change]. Our favorite was Don Pablo's [We can't find them anymore].  I loved the fajitas there and the tortillas....yum!  Several years later when we lived in said big city we still went there quite often.  A friend of mine once asked the server about their chicken fajitas and how they made them.  This is what he told her [to the best of my recollection, which might be way off].  

Either way these are great fajitas.
I promise.  

Start with teriyaki sauce.  I know, this is mexican not chinese.....just stick with me here.  I always intend for my food blogs to have a beautiful picture of all the ingredients beforehand all "PioneerWomaney", but I never remember.  I did, however pick this bottle out of the trash because it's the most important part.  There are different types of teriyaki sauce and this is the only one that's thin like soy sauce and perfect for this recipe. Do NOT buy the thick stuff....just don't.

I pour an entire bottle of this sauce into a ziploc bag along with garlic, lime juice, and sliced onions, and of course.....the chicken all cleaned up and ready to soak up perfect deliciousness.

I occasionally turn and squish the bag.  If you plan ahead you can leave this in the fridge overnight, but I usually just let it work its magic for a few hours on the countertop.

I grill up the chicken [my rule of thumb is 6 minutes per side for a regular sized chicken breast] and cover it with foil while it rests for a few minutes and I get all the other goodies ready.

I pour the marinade through a strainer and cook the onions on the stovetop.  I sometimes use a cast iron skillet that can go on the grill....sorry this pic is so blurry, I think my hands were full or dirty while I was trying to handle my camera. If my camera survives food blogging it will be a miracle.

This is where you would add sliced green peppers if you are into those in your fajitas.

After the meat has rested for a few minutes, just slice it up and it's ready to stuff into warmed tortillas with the onions, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese.  

At least that's how we like it. 

Chicken Fajitas Marinade
1 bottle teriyaki sauce
2 pounds chicken breast, cleaned and pounded to uniform thickness
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (or 6 cloves fresh)
2 Tablespoons lime juice

Mix all marinade ingredients, add chicken and allow to marinate for a few hours on the counter or overnight in the fridge.  Grill chicken 6 minutes per side.  Cook onions in a little bit of oil until they are tender and brown. Serve with warmed tortillas and toppings of your choice.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Parenting Conundrum

I was confronted with a parenting conundrum last week.  One of my kids was sick and stayed home for two days.  I hate for my kids to be sick, for real.  I waited on this child hand and foot, brought them snocones and food and popsicles and medicine and movies and pillows and get the picture. I picked up every piece of trash dropped on the floor next to the couch where they lay.  I picked up every sock and pajama pulled off when they were hot.  I picked up every empty dish and returned with another one full.  I fussed over their fever and general "feeling yuckiness."  I felt guilty when I had to leave them to go take care of other responsibilities.  I did all of this, mostly with ease because it is my joy and a role I relish to care for my children.  

At the end of this child's first day of sickness, they hugged me and thanked me for taking care of them.  It was sweet and precious, and just melted my mommy heart.

And tempted me to bend right down and pick these up when I walked past this scene on our first day back in "Fit as a Fiddle"-land.

These clothes are laying on the doormat in our garage; dropped here as my once sick now well child had to change out items in their gym bag in a rush to make it to school on time after two days home sick.  You know this doormat? The one everyone, EVERYone in our family has to step on every time, EVERY time we enter our home.  We've been stepping over these clothes for a couple of days now, and I am really tempted to pick them up.

But I won't.  Because as much as part of me would love to do everything for my kids, make their lives easy and cozy and painless; that's not what they need.  We labor through ridiculous lessons of hygiene and basic life skills with often nauseating repetition because these children are growing up into adults who need to know how to manage their lives. 

I ponder sometimes how God must handle this same conundrum.  He could make my life easy.  He could stop and pick up every mess I make and guide me through life with emotional snocones and spiritual carnivals.  Truth is, He delights to mother me through my sick days (Isaiah 66:13), but He loves me too much to let me live an entire life undisciplined.  There are so many things that surprise me about parenting, so many mistakes I make, so much confusion.  Mothering is THE thing in this life I am most insecure about, simply because it matters so much to me and I feel so inadequate to do it well.  But, I've been learning about inadequacy and am learning to be ok with it only as it makes me rely on Him all the more (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Maybe today you are in a bit of a funk toward God's unwillingness to pick your jeans up off the garage floor. Can you hear me encourage you to feel the affection of His heart toward you while trusting Him to instruct you and empower you to become the disciplined grown up child of God He had in mind before the beginning of time?  We can do the work of spiritual discipline because we are constantly watched over by a perfect, tender, affectionate Heavenly Father.

"My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline, but don't be crushed by it either. It's the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God."
Hebrews 12:7-11 The Message

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Godly Yet (from Chains Falling)

I was very honored to teach part of my Hosea study at the Oklahoma Ladies' Retreat this weekend.  This comes straight out of Chains Falling. Really, I just cut and pasted it straight from the manuscript - did I mention Ladies' Retreat which is code for "I haven't been this tired since I had a newborn baby?"

Kidding aside, this retreat is so wonderful - I was humbled to have a very small part.

Week 2:  God’s People Passion

Day 1: The Godly Yet

The book of Hosea is kind of a downer. It’s heavy and depressing and full of a bunch of difficult images that we don’t appreciate….at all! Remember this is a book written to offer correction to a very wayward bunch. But there are a few places, and I will be VERY quick to point them out, where God’s hope is the main attraction. This day highlights one of those spots. It is the central teaching of this book of God’s Word. I call it The Godly Yet. 

Read Hosea 1:9-2:1 to get the surroundings of the Godly Yet. What is the first word of Hosea 1:10? 

Right in the middle of Hosea 1:10 is a phrase that most of our English translations don’t even have.  According to my favorite Word Study Dictionary this verse reads more literally, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”[1] That phrase in the middle “And it shall come to pass” is “hayah”. It means “to breathe; it means to exist, to be, to come to pass; to be done, to happen, to be finished.”[2]

In most of our modern Bibles, it’s just a very plain word that connects the thoughts. But in reality it is God’s creative breath. Did you see all the ugliness of Hosea and Gomer’s story? Do you see the damage that her destructive choices have caused? God does! He recognizes it and calls it what it is.  In fact throughout the book of Hosea God uses very descriptive and disgusting word pictures that take several verses at a time. The beauty of the Godly Yet is not that God overlooks the death in our sinful choices. The beauty of the Godly Yet is that right in the middle of it He breathes and calls something new into existence and finishes the story.

Where does God do this? Return to our passage for today and write down the WHERE of the renaming process.

One of my favorite things in the Godly YET is that God does this right where the whole thing unraveled in the first place, “in the place where it was said to them.” 

One of my daughters has beautiful curly auburn hair. When she was younger, I would pull the front part of her hair (the fall into the eyes part) into a little top-right side ponytail. One day she became curious about cutting her hair and decided to cut off her little top ponytail. When she did, her hair fell into a little fuzzy crooked row of red bangs over her forehead. Many of you know from experience that bangs are not typically great ideas for curly hair. She took care of her mess and went on with her day assuming everything was fine. I took one look at her and asked her what she had done to her hair. I will never forget the look of genuine confusion on her face. She had carefully handled this herself. When she saw the offending hair in her hand she dealt with it herself. She threw the hair with the ponytail holder still attached behind her dresser where I found it later. She was offended that I could tell by looking at her that she had done something wrong. Don’t we do this with God? We know that the idolatry we cherish isn’t right, but we handle it ourselves throwing any evidence behind our dressers. Then we march out before God with our crooked fuzzy bangs and puff up in arrogance at Him when He reminds us that they are crooked and ugly and not at all what He intended for us. Just like Israel you are standing at the crossroads of verse 9 and verse 10.  What word connects verse 9 and 10?

Take the step of faith and trust toward God’s kind and alive and transforming YET.

The “Godly Yet” describes God’s patient way of telling us the truth, while never letting go. A few years ago when I was first studying and teaching Hosea, I was a part of the closing ceremony for an event at Oklahoma Baptist University, where students and faculty read aloud through the New Testament in 24 hours. I got there just in time to hear the last few chapters of Revelation. Now, keep in mind that I had Hosea on the brain and then I got tossed into Revelation. And guess what? Jesus was there fulfilling every need and promise that was uttered back in Hosea! It was an amazingly humbling and eye-opening experience. God is terribly hurt by our rebellion and He never glosses it over. He calls sin exactly what it is and doesn’t try to make us feel better about ourselves when we’re compromising. YET, (this is the Godly Yet part), Jesus never ever leaves us there.  Did I leave my sweet daughter alone with her massacred bangs? No, we went to see Mrs. Lori and she did her best to fix and blend and remind us that they would grow out. This is the Godly YET.  Wherever your life is the messiest, where the nastiest secret hides, and most closely guarded wound festers, God sees and He calls it the ugly it is. YET, He never leaves you there alone with no way to heal, with no hope that it will grow out. He might give you a long leash while you’re fighting Him, but He is never content to reject you. He just can’t stand it. So He waits and whispers His truth over you and tells you the truth about the evil in your choices (often with graphic and unappreciated candor and detail) and reassures you of His love and your true identity and tells you the truth some more. Right in the midst of the carnage, He breathes life. The formula goes something like this:  God says, “Here’s the sin I see……..(fill in the blank)…….and this is what consequences it will bring……..(another blank)…….YET, I love you and I will redeem even this in you to bring you closer to me and make you so certain in your redeemed identity that you are astonishingly effective as you represent Me in the darkness around you.” 

Draw a diagram illustrating the Godly YET. OK, I usually hate to do this in Bible Studies and skip all drawing questions – but just try it. If you are super artistic you can do pictures, if not you can just add words. 


I want you to have this visual picture of the Godly YET. This concept has transformed my spiritual insight. I see it everywhere in Scripture now. I’ll be studying for a Sunday School lesson or reading a story to my 3 year old or listening to a new song on the radio or listening to a precious one in my Bible Study share what she’s learning and there it is – the beautiful merciful Godly YET. Even now my heart swells with gratitude for this understanding of His love for me. When I begin to bristle toward the things God did or does or allows that make NO sense to me I remember that I may be looking at the first part of the Godly YET…..and the best is still YET.

Journal Prompt:  The Godly Yet means…….  

[1] (Zodhiates), 2141.
[2] (Zodhiates), 2311.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Mary Magdalene has been as scandalized by modern culture as she was in her own time.  I love her and always think of her at Easter, like we are old friends.  She was a true follower of Jesus.  She loved Him with a pure affection; the gratitude of one who knew she was as good as dead and then was saved completely because of the benevolence of another.  Her story is our own, even if we don’t yet recognize it.

Jesus rescued her from the terror of being filled with seven demons (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2), and she followed Him with complete loyalty:
  • As He ministered (Luke 8:1-3)
  • As He died (Matthew 27:56)
  • As He was buried (Matthew 27:61)
  • As He defeated death (Matthew 28:1-4)

John 20:11-18 is one of my favorite Easter passages.  This is the description of Mary’s interaction with Jesus after the resurrection.  She is alone and confused and completely devastated… how hope dawns.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news:
 “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. 
John 20:11-18 NIV

  • She recognized His voice more than His appearance, we can too.
  • She abandoned her need for explanation and simply believed Him, we can too.
  • She shared with everyone what He had shared with her, we can too.

I love this song sung by Natalie Grant, telling Mary Magdalene’s story.  It's my favorite Easter song:

What kind of love
Tells me I’m the reason He can’t stay
Inside the grave?

Look what Mercy’s overcome
Death has Lost and Love has won!

I am His because He is ALIVE! 

Happy Easter, Be HIS!