Sunday, May 31, 2009

God of My Days . . . and My Nights Too!

The other night I went to sleep with some concerns on my mind . . . no, some anxieties . . . . I was just flat out afraid. It was the kind of afraid that makes your chest tighten and makes you sleep thinly through the night with little snippets of your fears swirling around with you as you doze and waken and doze and waken and doze and waken. Before the alarm ever had a chance to come on, I bolted awake, anxiety high, heart pounding. I lay in bed for several minutes, trying to talk myself back from that ledge of anxiety, trying to refocus my thoughts.

The clock radio clicked on, and a voice started
to sing:

You're the God of my days
King of my nights
Lord of my laughter
Sovereign in sorrow
You're the Prince of my praise
The Love of my life
You never leave me
You are faithful
God of my days

I lay there and let the truths flood over me, letting them soak slowly into my soul. My God is God of my days. Such strength in that, such confidence. And that same in-control, never-wringing-His-hands God was also King of my night. While I tossed and struggled in the night, He was King, my faithful God, never leaving me, never turning His eye away. Ready to be my God in the new day, wanting to be clung to, promising never to leave me.

The anxiety ebbed away. Fear cannot live where love rules. Fear cannot thrive where the arms of your Father encircle you and where you are never alone.

You have to hear this! You can if you click here.

You awaken my heart
From slumbering
Meet me in mourning
And you speak to my grief
You're the light in my darkness
The delight of my eyes
The hope of the daybreak
When the sun's slow to rise

I trust that every moment's in your hands
You're the God of my days
The King of my nights
Lord of my laughter
Sovereign in sorrow
You're the Prince of my praise
The love of my life
You never leave me
You are faithful
God of my days

You unveil my eyes
Help me to see
The arms of my Father
Encircling me
You're a constant companion
I am never alone
Your love is the banner
That's leading me home

My eyes are on You
My hope is in You
My faith is in You
My eyes are on You
My hope is in You
My faith is in You

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Supper for Your Weekend

I said I was going to dive into my new America's Test Kitchen recipes and come to the surface when I had a good one in hand. Well, here I am!

I tried the Spicy Molasses Glazed Steak Tips first. I would call them very, very yummy, but when you take into consideration that they take 6 common ingredients and cook up in a half an hour, you have to call them fabulous!!

So, without further delay, here is a great meal to try this weekend!

Start by cutting 1 1/2 pounds of sirloin steak tips into 2-inch cubes. (The recipe tells me these steak tips are sold as whole steaks, cubes, or strips. Hmmmmm, good to know.)

If you are a steak lover like me, you will need to pause here to let your mouth water with anticipation of what is to come.

Okay, on to the next step.

Measure your 1/3 cup of molasses,

1/4 cup of cider vinegar (oops, I couldn't find my 1/4 cup measure so had to measure our 4 tablespoons instead ::sigh::),

and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes into a medium bowl,

and whisk it right up!

Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. (Youngest Son got a kick out of looking for that "just smoking" part!) Cook meat until it is browned all over (6-10 minutes). Transfer the meat to a platter. If you're a good cook, at this point you'll "tent" the meat with foil to keep it warm. If you're like me, you'll just do the rest of the recipe as fast as you can and pray the meat stays warm.

Add your molasses mixture to the meat juices in the skillet and simmer. At this point, things are smelling really, really good!

Then you simply spoon this slightly thickened sauce over the steak and serve!! How beautiful is that!

The thing that "makes" this recipe is the unusual combination of the molasses and cider vinegar. It gives you a delightful Asian taste, and no one can tell what is in the sauce (particularly finicky eaters who are sure they don't like molasses)!
I served these steak tips with some pasta that I swirled around in butter and sautee'd garlic, and Middle Son made a salad for everyone. I have never seen him have the patience to put together such a beautiful salad before and I probably never will again but for this one night, his salads were his moment of shining glory.

And the recipe was right. In 30 minutes I had dinner on the table . . . and a smile on my face! Mmmmmmmm!!

Spicy Molasses-Glazed Steak Tips:
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Whisk molasses, vinegar, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Pat steak tips dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook meat until browned all over, 6 to 10 minutes; transfer to platter and tent with foil.
Add molasses mixture and any accumulated meat juices to empty skillet and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon sauce over steak. Serve.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Memorial Day Supper. Company coming in 45 minutes. In the kitchen frying up barbecued meatballs, whipping up cream cheese mashed potatoes, buttering french bread. Where is the beater to my mixer? Oops, sloshed some ketchup onto the floor. Ack! Typical last minute frantic-ness.

Oldest Son appears in the kitchen. "Mom, I'll cut the watermelon up for you." Excuse me? Have I heard correctly? Oldest Son? I haven't seen you in the kitchen since you were asking me to fill your sippy cup.

Then it dawns. Cutting watermelon. Sharp knives. 14 year-old boy. But hey, he is offering to help me. Please come in, Oldest Son. Welcome to the kitchen. Thank you, thank you for offering to help me.

Oldest Son does a splendid job of cutting up the watermelon. Actually cuts up 1 and a half and fills the large white bowl. He sets it on the table, and he's gone.

But wait, he's back. And his hands are filled with . . . what's this? He has picked flowers from the yard and wants to make the bowl of cut watermelon look beautiful. My 6'2" adorable, basketball dunking Oldest Son is standing in my dining room with hands full of flowers tucking them in along the watermelon chunks to make them look beautiful.

I'm not a crier, but if I was, there would be adoring mother tears in my eyes.

The Man of the House is not too worried about Oldest Son showing his soft side. He says it's fine as long as he's banging bodies on the basketball court this weekend. Men!!

Reasons to Love Charleston

It was a quick morning in Charleston but long enough to remember some reasons to love this city:

Cobblestone streets:

(Wow, am I walking on the same stones as people roaming the streets in the 1700s??)

Pineapple fountains and a quick refreshment for hot feet:

(The pineapple symbolizes hospitality!! Thank you, Charleston!)

Window boxes, window boxes everywhere:

Sharing Italian ice on the sidewalk:

Peeking in at lush courtyards in between the houses:

Fascinating historical storytellers:

Houses shamelessly painted bold, bright pink:

Lovely city, fun times, good memories.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Night at the Aquarium

Thursday afternoon, Youngest Son (YS), Youngest Daughter (YD) and I climbed into the car and headed for Charleston, SC to the South Carolina Aquarium. It was a wonderful educational program that started at 7:00 p.m. and went overnight. Who thinks of these things?

The evening started out with a boys vs. girls game played with divers who were swimming around in the Great Ocean Tank. This tank holds 425,000 gallons of water! This fun game was then followed up with a scavenger hunt that took us all over the whole aquarium and a visit with a baby alligator . . . complete with touching. Enchanting!!

(Beautiful metal mobiles cut out into simple bird shapes glisten the whole length of the aquarium.)
At this point, it was time for a snack and then we got to pick anywhere in the whole aquarium to sleep! Oh, what fun! Where to sleep? I gave total control to YS. Pick us a great spot.

(Amazing driftwood from some tree in the myrtle family, I'm told.)
One room was called "Carolina Camping." It was a tribute, obviously, to camping in South Carolina and was adorably set up with a "ranger's station," a rushing stream full of fish, a tent, pretend campfire, a couple of barn owls, etc. Yes, YS loves camping. This was our room. YS plunked down his sleeping bag. I unzipped two sleeping bags for YD and I and sandwiched us in between. It was now 11:30 p.m. I was tired.

Lights went out. We were alone in the room. Something began to nag at my mind. All I could seem to think of was that 425,000 gallon tank of water. Unbelievably, I started to worry what would happen if the tank was to burst. I tried to push the thought away. Calm down. Think other thoughts.

Now that all the busy-ness of the evening had settled down, I could smell something a little strange. As 11:30 inched toward midnight, the smell could have been described as pungent.

Oh, I'm so tired. I've got to fall asleep. Whoosh, whoosh. Have you ever sat in a room with a small fish tank and heard the bubbling and percolating of the pump? Soothing, quieting . . . fish slowly crossing and recrossing. But this was not a small fish tank. This was a 425,000 gallon tank and another 115 other tanks. Whoosh, roar, swish. The aquarium buzzed and throbbed and surged with the noise of pumps. The "stream" by our heads gushed. One of the pumps squeaked sharply every 2.5 seconds. Are there pump rooms in aquariums? Is it possible that we were sleeping next to the pump room? Every buzz and roar and throb reminded me of that 425,000 gallon tank. Calm down. Go to sleep.

"Screech!!" My body jolted with the sound. The barn owls. Every frayed little nerve ending twitched.

More smells. This aquarium smells . . . well, fishy. And that pungent smell is getting stronger. We drift off to a thin sleep.

"Kleeeeeeek!" YS bolts straight up into the air. The bald eagle around the corner has awoken and is not happy. YS doesn't remember who he is or where he is. He just wants Mom. Three of us now cuddled scantily under an unzipped sleeping bag. YD molded to the front of me. YS clinging to the back of me. I'm warm, very warm, needing fresh air. Buzz, whoosh, roar, shriek. And what is that awful smell?

At 6:45 a.m. we are awoken by a cheerful aquarium worker. We have made it through the night. The 425,000 gallons of water still swish in their clear glass home. We are safe.

I look to my right, wondering what this enclosure is. Oh, my, a skunk display, a lovely pungent live skunk display right by my head. And there, 6 inches from my head . . . three piles of skunk-y poo deposited in the night. ::sigh:: I'd seen the picture, but a real skunk in an aquarium, huh??

Outside the aquarium a beautiful day was dawning. Night-time traumas forgotten.

We dip our feet into the water and run wildly in the sand, loving the fresh sea breezes in our faces.

Then there's a yummy bagel breakfast and it's time to pack up.

The lovely city of Charleston lays before us, with the sun shining for the first time in days, we are told. There are still a few more things to do before our adventure ends. A few more pics tomorrow.

Friday, May 22, 2009


"Your desire to pursue God comes from the fact that He pursued you. It is your spirit answering back to Him in His pursuit of you. [You are] sought out, pursued, chased down."
~~Beth Moore
You are loved, you are enjoyed. You are desired by Him.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Skipping Town

I'm leaving town with my youngest two for a school field trip adventure that involves sea turtles, pirates, and spending the night sleeping in an aquarium. Good times! Can't wait to share when we get back!

Hope you have a warm and sunny weekend!

Living with Technology

Some families just shouldn't own technology.

Actually, if you have to call the blog about your life and your family "Living with Imperfection," that is probably a very big indication that your family and technology are not a match made in heaven.

Our family's start down the slippery slope of technology mishaps and mayhem started with Oldest Son riding to the pool with his cell phone in his bathing suit pocket, joyfully flinging off his tee-shirt, and hurling his body into the pool. Mid-hurl, he remembered. The cell phone. In pocket. But there was nothing to do. Bodies cannot reverse direction while mid-air. So, long, cell phone. One down.

The next event involved Middle Son. He was fishing and had a brand new, much beloved cell phone. No way was this phone going to be damaged. He carefully removed his shoes and gently placed the phone down inside. That should be safe. Yes, it should be, but he did not take into account his friend exuberantly spinning around and mistakenly giving the shoe a hard kick . . . right into the lake. Gurgle. Goodbye, much-beloved-birthday-present cell phone. Two down.

Luckily for Middle Son, the Man of the House was able to give him an old, used replacement phone. However, two days later, Middle Son was having great fun with a friend, a hose, and a trampoline. He had learned his lesson. There was no way this phone was getting even slightly damp! He ran out to the driveway---far, far away from the hose---and laid the phone gently on the hood of the car. Nowhere even near the hose. Totally safe. So, how was I to know, when I scurried out to the car to go meet a friend for coffee, that a cell phone was on my hood? By the time I got the call that I had left the house with a technological stowaway on my hood, I was 10 miles away sipping coffee at Panera, and the cell phone was gone. We combed the route from Panera to home to Panera to home looking for the phone. I cannot even tell you how much aluminum cans and empty cigarette packages catching the light of the sun look like cell phones from the window of a car. Please forgive me, old, used replacement cell phone, but you seem to have evaporated. Three down.

Things come in three's, right? We should have been done at this point. But technology living in our home scoffs at "three's."

Youngest Son has an Ipod, a beautiful, shiny turquoise Ipod. Youngest Son is like the Man of the House. He takes very good care of his things. Nothing would likely happen to this prized piece of technology. And nothing would have . . . if he lived all by himself. But he doesn't. Youngest Daughter saw the Ipod sitting on my desk. Something was not quite right. Was that a sticky smudge on it? Well, let's take care of that. She scooped up the Ipod, headed to the sink, and when Oldest Son found her, the Ipod was lathered up, water flowing over it, bubbles of soap slipping down its sides, happy smile on her face. She was helping out. So sorry, glowing turquoise Ipod. (The picture above shows the Ipod reposing in its "rice therapy," the rice earnestly trying to draw out all the corroding water in the Ipod . . . and failing miserably.) Four down.

We're holding our breath. There are still multiple phones, several computers, Ipods, and even some old boomboxes that have escaped unscathed to this point. Who knows what disaster awaits them, secretly hiding behind life's corners.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Need of Some Nature

Yesterday, my kids were in need of the out of doors!! They may not have realized it, but I knew it!! Too much time indoors or on concrete and blacktop. Too much time looking at walls and breathing recycled air. We needed nature . . . and bad!!

A favorite place to head on days where we're in need of a good dose of nature is Furman University. So, the van was packed up with lunch and a variety of scooters, bikes, roller blades, and trikes, and we were off.

One of the highlights of Furman is their beautiful lake around which a trail winds through meadows, woods, and over small creeks.

We ate our lunch at the outdoor amphitorium with its ascending, grassy seating.

Lunch was interspersed with scootering and racing and even the delightful discovery of a turtle.

And then the walk around the lake began. Lungs filled with fresh air. Young, strong legs zoomed off, pedaling, running, rollerblading.

There were bridges to whisk over.

Oh, wait, look below, a little creek. Off come the shoes. Bare feet stretch toward mossy rocks, gurgling water, swirling leaves.

Then we're off again. There's more to see! There are trees to climb.

Unmarked pathways need to be explored!

Oh, Mom, look!! A mother duck with her babies. There's five of them! Just like us!

The path winds through deep green glades, ferns packed and crowded up against small streams, buttery with sunshine.

Last stop is the campus's rose garden. Even my brawny, rough-and-tumble boys are lured in by the rows of vibrant colors.

Youngest Daughter dances in the gazebo
Look up!! The sky is beautiful blue---white, puffy clouds scudding by.

There's a fountain over to the side, icy cold water, sparkling with coins. Water pours from a large jug held by the verdigris cherub. It's mesmerizing.

It's time to go home. Muscles are tired, mouths are thirsty, foreheads are sweaty.
Here, Mom, these are for you! A thistle, a dandelion, and a stalk of weedy grass. Sweet momentos.

Goodbye, Furman, until when next we are in need of a little nature.