Archive for July, 2009

in remembrance…

It was a year ago today that I received a phone call that changed my life.  Initially we didn’t know it, but our mom was already gone.  The rest of the day was spent dealing in formalities at the hospital.  But today, I don’t want to focus on the shock and pain of the day.  I have something else to share with you…

A few months after my mom passed away, I asked a couple of my close friends from high school if they had any memories of my mom they could share with me.  You know, sometimes you can be too close to your parent and the life circumstances you share with them to really see them as people and to truly appreciate their value.

I think it is possible that your friends in high school are the ones who get to know your parents best.  I know that as close as my friends from college are, they never knew my mom very well.  There’s just an independence that comes with being away at college that is vastly different than high school.  Anyway, today I’d like to share with you a couple of excerpts from the memories two of my close friends shared with me about my mom.

Friend #1’s Memories:

I remember her cracking little jokes on her way through the kitchen while we were sitting at the table or coming into the living room to chat with us a bit and she would just laugh and laugh at whatever antics we were up to that day. She was definitely a “cool mom”. I could come and go there as I pleased regardless of whether you were even home or not. And there was always the chips and hot sauce thing, I always loved that she paid enough attention to what your close friends liked and kept them on hand. I remember you would have these random gatherings with all different kinds of people and she never seemed to mind at all who was in the house and what was going on because everyone just had such a nice time there.

I had always wished that things like that were possible at my house and I was a bit jealous but relieved at the same time that I had you and your family in my life.I realize that sometimes you can literally know facts in your head, but that for various reasons you can’t know them in your heart. I can imagine that this is something you’re really struggling with in this aftermath, but I know your mom loved you and Amber immensely!

Friend #2’s Memories:

as im sure you recall that was a hard time for me as well in high school, and I remember feeling how wholesome and loving your home was when I came over…it was like a balm to my spirit, a look in to how it was “supposed to be” before and after your parents’ divorce. I remember she was always so kind to me, and would always be baking and cooking goodies, welcoming me to try everything, and making me feel comfortable…for some reason I remember sunny afternoons there..she would always look happy to see me, with a great sense of humor and a smile, a jokester:) It was like being able to sample what it was like having a mother involved “for real” I could always see how much she loved you…

You know I was just thinking this morning on other topics, realizing I had been focusing on the “dark side” (sorry, star wars reference:) ) lately…and I already feel better just realizing that, so I can make a change –
Your mother brought a light with her for others, at least thats how I felt.

Wow.  I was really blown away by their words.  If you didn’t know her, I hope that these short reflections help you to appreciate who she was to those around her.  If you did know her, I hope they help you to remember the good in the midst of the lingering pain and grief.

I looked up the meaning of her name this morning and it means “one who resembles God”.  After reading my friends’ words, I can see that in many ways she resembled Him to them and was a blessing to their lives.  I hope that I will continue that legacy of refuge, hospitality, and love throughout my life as a tribute to her.

Rest in Peace–Michelle Renee Critchlow–April 25, 1961 to July 29, 2008


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truthful thursday

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights…you stoop down to make me great.  You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.  Psalm 18:33, 35-36

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…is ground chicken.  I know what you’re thinking…Bor-ing!  But honestly, have you ever utilized this stuff in your epicurean endeavors?  It’s delightful!

For the longest time, I wasn’t even sure where you could get it from but it kept coming up in Rachel Ray’s recipes so I set out to see if any of the grocery stores in Ames carried it.  Now, I haven’t checked Fareway, but I did find it awhile back at Hy-Vee.  I purchased it, sure that I would make some divine dinner from it that very evening but life took over the the ground chicken wound up in the back of my freezer–only to be rediscovered a few days ago!

[Side note: finding things in my freezer is like a continual treasure hunt!  I find things on super sale or clearance and freeze them, only to forget about them for months.  I’m going to try to be more on top of this as I try to start cutting our grocery bill]

I also discovered some beef chorizo I purchased in Chicago back in December.  Put these two flavorful finds together and ta da–the beginnings of a marvelous meal!  I don’t know about you all, but I love chorizo!  It’s so spicy and tasty–but not so good for you.  Cutting it with the ground chicken made it a) healthier and b) much longer lasting! 

Last night for dinner we ended up having the ground chicken/chorizo combination mixed with some sauted green peppers/onions on corn tortillas.  Mmm mmm mmm!  As a side we had some black beans and rice (I’ve gotta say that I prefer red/pink beans to black beans but Jensen loves black beans so they make more routine appearances at the dinner table).

As for the actual filling, I used 1 lb of ground chicken and 4 oz of chorizo (I had a package of 4-2 oz tubes).  Jensen had, er, well…several…tortillas full and I had two at dinner last night (in his defense, he did cut himself off).  There was still enough for me to have two at lunch with some left over.

Oh ground chicken, you can be sure that you’re going to be an invited ingredient at many dinner parties to come 🙂

Next potential use: I have a recipe for some chorizo/black bean empanadas that we love–I think I’ll add the chicken to these next time.

Note to the savvy shopper: Fareway makes its own chorizo and I have found it to be way less fatty than pre-packaged chorizo (for about the same price).  They don’t have it out at the counter–they freeze it so you have to ask for it.

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the repeat song

Does this happen to you?  You’ll get a new album, listen to it all the way through a few times, but then one song becomes the repeat song?  The one you skip the rest of the album (even though you enjoyed it) for?  This may be a phenomenon that has changed since i-pods (since you can just pick and choose songs, rather than buying the whole album) but I actually don’t own an i-pod so it’s me and my car’s CD player.

The repeat song for me right now is “Storm” by Lifehouse.  I think the lyrics are pretty easy to understand here:

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Make a joyful noise…

On Saturday night, we were able to join some friends down at the Lutheran Church of Hope to see the David Crowder band perform.  I was excited because I thoroughly enjoy their music and it was going to be in a small-ish venue!  An added bonus was that it was one of our friend’s first ever Christian concert and I was confident it was going to be a good one. 

All this got me thinking about how blessed I’ve been to see several Christian concerts.   Generally speaking, I love any kind of live event (with the exception of bar concerts that are so loud you can’t hear yourself think for three days–nothing wrong with these, just not my cup of Diet Coke).  But I particularly enjoy the moments of worship at Christian concerts.  

My very first Christian concert was my junior year of high school.  We went to see Switchfoot, Relient K, and the OC Supertones at this little place by South Ridge Mall in Des Moines (I can’t remember the name of the venue).  What an exciting night.  First of all, going to Des Moines from our small town in southeast Iowa was always a memorable event.  Woo-wee!  The big city!  Secondly, I was a very young Christian (in biological and spiritual age).  I was wide-eyed and amazed at this new life I had started to live and I thought the other Christians I knew were just about the best people .  EVER (they really are some of the best people.  Ever.).  And lastly, I’m not sure I’d ever been to a concert resembling a rock concert.

Like I said, the venue was small and it was packed.  I hardly knew any of the words to any of the songs.  But I jumped.  I pumped my fist.  I raised my  hands in worship.  I laughed in amazement as our youth pastor did the same.  In a word, it was awesome.  And unforgettable.

I hope your first Christian rock concert was just as amazing, friend.  And for those of you who haven’t been to one yet, get it on your calendar.  And if you can make it a road trip–even better.  The experience and the stories will be well worth your money.

Oh and the best part of the concert Saturday?  A spontaneous dance train throughout the auditorium during Undignified.  Oh yeah–it really happened 🙂

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So, life has been a bit rough lately.  As per usual in Jensen and I’s summers.  Be praying for his dad.  He has a relapse this week and is still in ICU.  Also be praying for the rest of his family–pray that God keeps providing for their needs in this time.  When we were down there, it was really cool to see that Cruz’s co-workers were rallying around to support the family.  Pray for the doctors that they would have wisdom as they treat him.

But in the midst of all of this, our two year anniversary rolled around.  Yay–two very tough years and we’re still here!   Jensen, having learned some lessons from Pastor Mark, and knowing that he would be busy all evening of our actual anniversary, came up with a plan and told me about it beforehand (I’d say he got 5-10 points just from me pre-telling people, haha). 

Rather than exchanging gifts, he decided to that we should treat ourselves to hour long massages.  No arguments here.  I was excited!  I’ve had several massages before, but never an hour long!  Let me tell you–this will probably be one of our anniversary standards for future years. 

I’m sure that the minute Jensen’s massage started, he went into his empty box, but me–even when I’m relaxed, I can’t seem to stop thinking/analyzing/contemplating.  As I was lying there, I starting thinking about several parallels between the massage experience, trials/hardships, and God.  Say what?!  Just go with me on this 🙂

I am always amazed during a massage at the places the massage therapist finds knots.  I mean, who knew you could hold so much tension in your calves?  I think we just get so used to the tension, it doesn’t even cross our minds that there is such a thing as a less tense state that could feel so much better.  Once the therapist finds the knots, at least for me, I want the person to apply a good deal of pressure.  Why?  Even though it is really uncomfortable (and occasionally painful) at some points, I want her to work out the most knots so that I will feel the best afterwards.  There were points, when she was really working to get a knot out of my shoulders that I wanted to be like “okay, okay…stop!  It hurts too much!”  But I never cry out during a massage.  I do my best to relax and take the discomfort because I trust that she is causing the least amount of pain possible to get the best results.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down yet?

In my life, I walk around with all these spiritual/emotional knots that I don’t even know are there.  I’ve gotten so used to them that I just consider this to be my normal state.  When God comes along and applies some pressure, trying to work them out, I cry out at the SMALLEST discomfort rather than trusting…

and let me just take a moment to say, does it make ANY sense that I would trust a person I’ve only met a couple times and that I pay for services more readily than the God who knit my very being together and is my faithful, eternal companion?  seriously, autumn.  seriously. 

…that He will be steadfastly gentle and is in the process of bringing about a greater good? 

Obviously, this is just an analogy and they all break down at some point, but this one served to help me contemplate my reactions to the trials in my life.  A massage and some deep thinking–that’s my kind of anniversary 🙂

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