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Archive for December, 2009

We are making some big changes to our diet in the True household, and I thought I’d share some of the best recipes we’ve discovered during our menu makeover. Check back each week for our latest and greatest.

This one is super easy and super good. You pretty much cook the onions, add the garlic and then most everything else and let it simmer for a bit. Then voila…delicious!

Pasta Fagioli Soup

1 med. onion, diced
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (29 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
5 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. red wine
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1 (15 oz.) can navy beans
1/2 fresh parmesan, grated
1 T. dried parsley
1 1/2 t. dried basil
1 1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/2 lb. ditalini or small shell pasta
2 T. fresh basil, (optional)
2 T. fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (optional)

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onions in olive oil until lightly browned and carmelized.
  2. Stir in garlic, and cook until tender (one minute or less).
  3. Add all remaining ingredients except for pasta and fresh herbs.
  4. Simmer over medium heat for one hour.
  5. Cook pasta in separate pot until al dente. Drain.
  6. If desired, stir fresh herbs into soup.
  7. Add spoonful of pasta to soup bowls. Add soup.
  8. Garnish with slices of parmesan and fresh herbs.

This is our newest family favorite and has been quite a big hit. I think it’s even better the next day. Personally, I can’t stand mushy pasta, so I store any leftover pasta separately from the soup and stir it in when I’m ready to eat. Add a warm piece of crusty bread rubbed with the cut edge of a piece of garlic, and you’re set. So good and so perfect for a chilly day.

We had this for dinner last night and then again today for lunch. I hope you’ll make it and let me know how it turns out. The SECRET is to carmelize the onions until they are good and brown and then to let the whole thing simmer for a good long time. It gets better every day, and to make sure we have some extra around, we have to double the recipe.

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Party Like Shepherds

I tried really hard to manage a Norman Rockwell Christmas this year.

We kicked off the Christmas season with our Annual-Family-Breakfast-and-Tree Decorating tradition. We decided to cut back on our family gift giving so we could give more to someone who really needs it and started tossing around ideas for Christmas dinner. We also began  reading through Max Lucado’s, God Came Near, and were enjoying some good discussions with the kids.  Norman Rockwell would have been priming his canvasses.

Then we got “The Call.” My doctor was concerned about some cysts that had been discovered on my ovaries earlier in the week. As gently as he could, he gave his exact assessment. “I’d say there’s about an 80% chance this is cancer.”

Our thoughts turned from Christmas to cancer. I don’t remember any Norman Rockwell paintings about cancer.

Within days, I had an appointment with a surgeon at the world renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. We met with the new doctor, and surgery was scheduled for December 21. This was not on my Christmas list. Surgery. The week of Christmas. The week my kids would be out of school. The week when my parents and sister and brother-in-law were to arrive to play their part in the Norman Rockwell portrait.

Nothing turned out as I had planned for our Christmas celebration this year. Not even the cancer.

By late afternoon on December 21, my family received the news. “No cancer.”

The surgeon whispered the words in my ear while I was still under the effects of general anesthesia. “No cancer.”

The news was broadcast via phone calls, facebook, twitter, emails and this blog. “No cancer.”

The party began, and I hadn’t even left the recovery room! The celebration continued when we returned home Christmas morning…to banners, balloons, flowers, cards, smiles, stories and hugs. Tears and smiles mingled into a cocktail of Christmas joy.  It was a perfect homecoming, and the best part was that it was Christmas day. Norman Rockwell would have been proud.

The irony of the scene is striking. It’s the Savior’s birthday, and I get the healing, the homecoming and the party. It’s just like Him. His parties are all for us. I can’t get over it. He comes for us. Gives us His life. His healing. His hope. Then He hosts a party.

I’ve exchanged my Norman Rockwell images for those of  shepherds who “returned  glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.” (Lk. 2:20)

Thank you for partying with us this week. It has been utter delight to read every message and receive every note and call. One of the things I hadn’t anticipated was that if we did receive “No Cancer” for Christmas, I wouldn’t be able to physically celebrate like I wished. So as I’ve read your messages and heard the earnest joy in your voices, I’ve felt as though you’ve been celebrating on my behalf. I am humbled to tears and truly overjoyed.

Like you’ve partied for me, Jesus parties for us. It’s up to us to party for Him, so let’s party like shepherds.

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When Words Fall Short

There is so much on my heart, but it’s going to take a good deal of time to fully express all I hope to share. I thought this would be a good place to start.

You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God, I can’t thank you enough. (Ps. 30:11-12)

God has been so good to us. He’s given us more than I dared think possible. Every best scenario has been played out in our lives over this past week. Gratitude fills my heart and breaks open a dam of emotion each time I try to put it into words.

Mere words will never be enough. My fallible thoughts have been in continual processing mode. My emotions can’t seem to catch up with my reality, and I still find myself wondering why God would choose to show such mercy to me. So I’ve borrowed David’s words from Psalm 30 thinking that my feelings must mirror his as grasped a way to put his emotions into words. Like him, I’m learning that living a life fully devoted to the Lord of all is the best response…especially when words fall short.

God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.

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Home with the Family

11 a.m. this morning we pulled into our driveway.  Home on Christmas Day. Another prayer answered!  We are grateful to God for making it possible for Karen to be home on Christmas day. So many prayers were answered and I am sure Karen will share in time as she recovers from the surgery.

Merry Christmas!

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Hoping for Home

Last night was a great night of sleep for Karen.  The room we are in is very quiet and there were few interruptions which helped rest come more easily. Today Karen has been up for three good walks over the past 3 hours. She is in good spirits and excited to go home.  As it looks right now, we will probably be released from the hospital around 3pm. 

This morning a blood test was taken and they found her hemoglobin levels to be too low to be released from the hospital. The plan is to give her one unit of blood to bring her levels up.  If all goes well with the transfusion and she feels well enough to travel 4 hours then our plan is to have Karen in her own bed at home tonight.

The first couple days of the journey felt like we were listening to an orchestra playing in a minor key with every instrument playing at their own tempo. The dissonance left us feeling uncomfortable and searching for an end to the maddening rush of sound. The orchestra has never stopped playing but it has seemed to slowly adjust day by day. Every day that passed, with every prayer offered, the tempo slowed and the instruments began playing together. The minor key shifted to major and what looked to be major surgery ended up much more minor than what it could have been with a finale declaring – NO CANCER! 

We have enjoyed reflecting on what God has taught us on this journey. I am sure time will reveal more but for now we both have been humbled by the outpouring of encouragement and prayers so many have offered for Karen and our family.  Not one prayer was insignificant and the combined impact of what seems to be hundreds -if not thousands- of prayers resulted in God’s goodness being realized in ways we couldn’t have dreamed.  It is humbling to be the recipients of such goodness.  Now, we invite you to continue lifting those prayers toward our God but now on behalf of Matt Chandler and his family as they face the coming months of radiation and chemo treatments. Our prayers will be frequent as we plead for God’s goodness to be poured out with healing, wisdom and peace.

Today we enjoy the beautiful sounds of a symphony sending God’s whisper, “I love you and I am with you. I will never leave you or forsake you. Cast all your care on me for I care for you. Peace I give to you.”  Our prayer is that the Chandlers will come to hear this sweet symphony too.

“God is with you and takes great delight in you, quieting you with love, rejoicing over you with singing”

Zeph.3:17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gerry True

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More than we Realize

Karen made really good progress yesterday. She was able to get out of bed and walk on three separate occasions. The walks last about 5 minutes in the hallway outside her door. She has also started taking liquids and enjoyed some chicken broth for dinner last night. She is also off the oxygen and breathing well.

Today she will begin eating solid food and the nurse will begin transitioning her away from the IV pain medication.  Thank you for your continued prayers for healing during her recovery.

On another note, we both believe God has a broader purpose He is working out through the goodness he has poured out on us. Bit-by-bit we are recognizing some of what that broader purpose is.

We are staying at a nice hotel in the Galleria area on this visit to Houston (Priceline.com partially to thank). While getting ready to head back to the hospital this afternoon this thought ran through my mind. “I need to meet with the GM and share the high and low points of hotel stay”. Crazy, I know. 

So I tried… I went down to the front desk and asked to see the GM. I didn’t really think about where this thought came from even though it seemed a little crazy. And in all honesty,  I really did not expect to sit down with the GM but thought I would give it a shot. Instead of the GM,  I met with Assistant GM. I can be slow to realize when God is at work and this was one of those moments. I thought it was about sharing what I had experienced at the hotel but God was about to change my environmental experience into experiencing Him.

The Assistant GM and I sat down in a somewhat secluded are in the lobby.  Her smile was inviting and her gracious greeting clearly demonstrated why she was the Guest Services Manager.  What I later learned was that several months ago she was unemployed and began working at the hotel making $8 per hour as a Guest Services Assistant. Today, only a few short months later,  she oversees Guest Services staff. Big job in a hotel with 25 floors!

It did not take long to find out that I was meeting with a committed believer who loves to help lead worship at her church. I also learned that she ministers in a work place that is predominantly Muslim. I had gained some indication of the heavy muslim influence as I walked through the doors of the Hotel that had greetings in Arabic. What I found really cool was that she spoke of her work as a ministry!

After awhile, it began to sink in that I was not supposed to speak with the GM as I had desired.  I was there to pray for this servant of God and encourage her in the unique calling God had placed upon her life. Together we prayed and I gained profound respect for this woman of God who has a huge heart for Him. As I left I found myself tremendously blessed by a devoted follower of Christ who in turn encouraged me with these verses. 

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.  

Ephesians 3:16-21

Please pray for wisdom and blessing on her and her family as she serves God among people who desperately need him.

The name of the hotel and the Assistant GM have been withheld to not compromise her future ministry opportunity

Gerry True

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Receiving God’s Goodness

This morning as we watch the sun rise through our hospital window, I feel like God has put us at the foot of the Niagra Falls. He is pouring His goodness and blessing on us in full measure. I stand there right now holding Karen in my arms, incredible joy fills our heart, Gratitude flows from our lips- Together, we enjoy only what He is capable of doing.  We rest in his care as He continues to heal Karen.
Today the doctor hopes to have Karen up and walking as much as possible.  After 34 hours of no food she will begin drinking clear liquids. They will also begin to transition her away from oxygen and the need for pain medicine through an IV. 
“O Lord my God, I cried out to You and You healed me.”
Psalm 30:2
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
Psalm 34:3

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