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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Easiest Meal Ever - Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with Quinoa & Brown Rice

{Edited to add 4/8/2013 - For those of you who got to this post by searching: Can I microwave High Liner Tortilla Crusted Tilapia?: The box says that microwave cooking is not recommended.}

Like seafood? Want an easy meal but still want to eat healthy? This is me in a nutshell! Cooking is not something that I do for fun. I do not sit around and watch the Food Network during my free time or spend hours sifting through cookbooks as a hobby. Some women do love to cook. They do watch the Food Network on purpose. And that's ok. That's just not me. 

This meal is not the cheapest meal to make, but it is cheaper than eating out or even fast food, which is probably what we would do if I didn't have this easy, healthy meal to fall back on. I personally make this meal about once a week!

I get everything I need for this meal at Costco, but the products may be available other places also.

First, start with a box of High Liner tilapia. My personal favorite is Tortilla Crusted Tilapia, but Roasted Lemon Pepper is very good, too. One box from Costco will last us several dinners.




Next, follow the cooking directions on the box for whatever style tilapia you chose. (For Tortilla Crusted Tilapia, it's 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes; for the Roasted Lemon Pepper Tilapia, it's 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.)

Next, when the fish is almost done, take a package of Seeds of Change certified organic Quinoa & Brown Rice with garlic. 




Use your hands to massage the package a bit to separate the rice before opening. Then, tear off the top section and put in the microwave (standing up), for 90 seconds. Yup, that's it. Rice is done. (One package feeds my family of 4.)

Serve with a salad or other vegetable. This meal is sooooo good, and extremely healthy. The rice has zero added ingredients or preservatives, which is great. 

Voila! Dinner is served.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Real Worship



I recently read a story by Robert Brunell called "The Journey" posted by The Redeemed Gardener. It is quite long, for a blog post, but I knew that I was supposed to read it, so I did. (Although I still haven't made it through the whole thing yet--I plan to finish it over the next couple of days). One quote has stuck with me since reading it yesterday: [I]t is possible to go through all the surface motions of faith in God while one's real worship, the thing which obsesses the mind day and night, is idolatry." Powerful statement. Because I know it's true.

Have I been worshiping God with real worship?? Is He the main object of my affections?? Because so often, especially lately, the answer is no.

Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
--Isaiah 55:2

I have known real worship. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I have spent time in His Presence. He has filled my cup many times. And yet still, lately I have chosen to seek that which is not bread, and to spend my time on things that do not satisfy. I have not carved out that special time to be with Jesus, My Savior, My Redeemer, My Friend. I have neglected to stay connected to the vine.


"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." --John 15:5 (emphasis added)

Apart. From. Him. I. Can. Do. Nothing. Nothing! No wonder my life falls apart when I don't stay connected. When I don't come to Christ on a regular basis, falling on my knees in surrender before Him, there are a few things that generally happen. First, I start to think I'm somebody. Pride starts creeping in, and I think I just may have a handle on things. 

If I continue to stay disconnected, after a time I look around and realize that my cup is empty. My "handle" I think I have on life starts to unravel, and pride swiftly abandons me only to be followed by some serious insecurity and doubt. The Enemy sees an opening and begins to whisper in my ear:
"Is God sure you're the best person to be in charge of children's ministries?? Surely so and so could do a much better job..." 
"Can you really handle this whole blog thing? Look at Kat from Inspired to Action or Ruth from The Better Mom. Don't you think that they are much better at giving God the glory and much better equipped to help others than you are?"
"Do you really think that you can minister to people, that they need you to? Your friends, neighbors, and church family? They are doing fine. Look at you. You can't handle anything right now, let alone other people's problems."

After the insecurities, comes the feeling of emptiness and the beginnings of mild depression. Because I know that when my cup is empty, those statements of insecurity are partly true. Because when I am empty, I have nothing to give, and if I'm not abiding in Christ, I really can't do those things. Because I was never meant to give out of an empty cup. I was meant to give out of the overflow. (At times when I have let myself get empty enough that I start to show signs of depression, I usually ask my husband to help pray me out of it, which really helps me get back on track, after which I immediately spend time in the Presence of God. If you are experiencing some of what I'm describing, ask someone close to you to pray for you. You can also leave me a comment or send me a private message -- via the "Contact Me" button on the top right hand side of this blog -- and I would love to pray for you myself. In addition to having someone pray for you, spend time on your knees. ASK Him to fill you! He is the only thing that satisfies, and He will not leave you empty if you ASK for a full, overflowing cup.)


Another quote from the story that has impacted me: "[I]n the Wilderness of Prayer," (part of the man's journey), "prayer becomes one's way of life--the source of one's whole existence. The time has come for YOU to be lost in a life of prayer." Again, powerful. 

1 Thessalonians says to "pray without ceasing." Do I pray without ceasing? No. Not lately. How does one even do that? How do we stay connected to the vine? By abiding in Him. 

God doesn't want just part of us. He wants all of us. He wants us to live our lives through Him, and vice versa. 

I remember one time when God was trying to teach me something, and I got frustrated. I don't remember what it was that He was trying to teach me, or what I was going through exactly at the time, but I just remember that whatever it was, I was really struggling with it. In a moment of exasperation, I threw up my hands and cried, "What do You want from me??" The question, on my part, wasn't meant to be answered, really. Surely He could see, through my "question," that whatever it was He was requiring, it was too much! Right?

But He did reply. Softly, but powerfully: "Everything."

He isn't looking for my mornings, or my evenings, or a general sense or declaration of belief in Him. He wants ME. He wants me to ABIDE in Him. Every day, every night. All day, all night. That is so easy to forget in this culture! TV, internet, facebook, pinterest, ipods, cell phones. Clean water. Food in abundance. Not just food in abundance, but fast food. Electricity, vehicles, microwaves, refrigerators, the list goes on and on. We have it all. And yet, without Christ, we have nothing.

Father, forgive us for our complacency! For seeking that which does not satisfy, for searching for water that won't fill us! God, only YOU satisfy! Everything else in life will abandon us and leave us empty and dry. Fill us up, LORD! Fill us up, like only You can. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to be disconnected from you and for not intentionally seeking Your face every day. Break us down, God! Remove from us all of our "surface motions" of worship, and replace them with true worship! Forgive us for our mindless obsessions! We thank You, God, for your faithfulness. That even when we are not faithful, YOU are faithful. Forgive us for forsaking You, and lead us back to Your arms. We give You Your rightful place in our lives: the center, the top, the bottom, the right side, the left, and everywhere in between. May we live, move, and have our being in You! 



I pray for everyone reading this right now, that they would experience Your Presence in a real way, maybe in a way that they have never experienced before. I ask that You fill them up, LORD! I ask that they would know You for who You are, and not just who they've imagined or believe You to be. I ask that they would know who they are, as You've made them, and not as the world sees them or the Enemy has led them to believe. Touch them, God, that they might know Your heart, and that theirs might beat as one with Yours. Thank You, God!

I hope that this post has blessed you today. The last thing I will leave you with is a quote from a Lifehouse worship song, "Everything:"



(you can hear the full song on youtube here)

This post is featured on these great linky parties:

Missional Women  Faith-Filled Friday

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Twin Homeschooling Kindergarten Graduation


Just because you are homeschooling doesn't mean your kids have to miss out on special celebrations and milestones. When the twins finished kindergarten in late September, we had a special kindergarten graduation to celebrate. (Wait, did I say late September?!! *GASP* Do I mean to say that I do NOT follow grade levels like the school system does?? Why, yes, that is exactly what I mean. :)

Anyway, we had a little graduation celebration, and I must say, homeschooling multiples sure does make things like this double (or triple!) the fun. :)


Attire


I made homemade graduation hats for them to wear, which were really fun. You can find a complete step-by-step tutorial over at dabbled.org.. If I had it to do over, I would have made better sure that they fit them properly before stapling. Stapling the bottoms was very awkward, but the end result was well worth it!

Besides the hat, I let them wear clothes they liked that were still "nice" and didn't want to make it too formal. It is just kindergarten, after all! (We don't wear shoes in our house, hence, the bare feet.)


Guests

We didn't have a huge crowd of people or anything, but we did invite their great grandparents to come, and they really enjoyed the whole thing. Depending on how much preparation you want to do and how much room you have, you can invite as many or as few guests as you like. My husband ended up getting the day off by accident, so it was nice that Dad got to be there, too.


                                 My entire family is clearly enthused about having their picture taken. :)


Activities


  • Before the graduation, I had each of the twins pick 18 papers (6 sets of 3) from each subject: 3 to keep for themselves for the memory box (and also for state records), and 3 to give to each grandparent (or aunt/neighbor) to show what they did for the year. I then stacked each complete set (3 from each subject) and stapled them together. They gave 1 set to each of the grandparents that came to the graduation. Their great grandparents really liked having these keepsakes. (We kept the other sets to give to the other grandparents/relatives that weren't able to come so they could have a set also.) I also printed off their creative writing stories that they had dictated to me. All the rest of their work went into the recycle bin.


  • As part of the ceremony, I had the kids "show off" some of what they had learned. They both counted by 10's and 5's to 100. Sonlight recommends that they recite their learned Bible verses to give them experience at public speaking, so we attempted that, too. I say "attempted" because this didn't exactly go according to plan. They forgot quite a few of them in the heat of the moment, but with a little prodding they did remember several, too. I had intended to do a review of them the day before, but we were out getting supplies for the graduation and I completely forgot. Oops!
  • If I had it to do over, I would have had them recite the "30 Days Hath September" poem that they had learned, but didn't think of it until later, well after it was all over.

  •  After they did their reciting, I had them stand on one side of the room and wait for me to call their name. I then called them up one by one, using their full name. When they each came up, I handed them each of the Certificates of Completion that come with the Sonlight Instructor Guides. (One for Language Arts K, one for Core A, and one for Science A. If you do not use Sonlight or just want a different certificate, scroll down to the end to see a couple of links for ones you can print off yourself.) After handing them the certificates and telling them what they were for, I told each one how proud I was of them and gave them a little kiss.

  • After getting their certificates, I had them move their tassels to the other side of their hats and we all clapped. (And took pictures, of course!)

  • After the "ceremony," the twins got to make a Graduation Day keepsake. You can print off your own and get a full tutorial over at snackpicks.com. The keepsake asks questions on one half like what grade they are in, what is their favorite food/color/book, etc. and they stamped their handprint on the other half. They told me their answers and I wrote them down for them to copy so it could be in their own handwriting. Ideally, we will make these keepsakes every year to see how they change from year to year. It also makes a good cover for their kindergarten schoolwork we stapled earlier to help us organize what work came from what year. (Remember all those sets of 3?)

                

Food

Because the only guests were us and one set of great grandparents, we took the lazy way out and took the kids and the grandparents out to eat afterwards. Depending on what time of day you have your graduation and how long it lasts, you may want to serve finger foods or just cake or other desserts. (Scroll down for a couple of cute food ideas!)


Other Kindergarten Graduation Party Ideas:


                      



                                         
Free Smartie Pants Printable/Goody Bag Idea                            Smartie Pants Gift




                                 



                      



                                       



                             


For even more ideas, check out my Kindergarten Graduation Board on Pinterest: