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Thai Chicken

This recipe can be served in the winter with rice – or served with a pasta salad as a delicious barbecue option in the summer)                       thai chicken chunks

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (cut into small chunks if serving with rice; cut into thin fillets if grilling on a barbecue)

Marinade:

1 red chilli, finally chopped (or 1 tsp Lazy Chillies)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped  (or 1 tsp Lazy Garlic)

50g chopped fresh coriander

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh lemongrass

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp Thai fish sauce

1 tbsp lime juice

  1. Put the chicken chunks or fillets into a nonmetallic bowl, stir the marinade through and chill for at least 2-1/2 hours in the fridge.
  2. Cook the chunks in the oven for about 20 minutes and serve with jasmine rice; or grill the fillets on a barbecue until cooked through and serve with a pasta salad.
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There stood by the cross of Jesus….

…..his mother.

Of course she was there. With her sister and her friend. Watching the long, slow, agonising death of her special son.

What did it mean for her to be standing there, amidst the mocking and the taunting and the jeering? Watching the soldiers divide his clothes among them? Hearing him cry out for a drink?

During Jesus’s life on earth, Mary had had a very special relationship with her son. We know more about her side of the relationship than we know about his.

His birth had been promised to her by an angel. When she had heard the news, she was, of course, greatly troubled. She was a young girl and she was to become pregnant with the Son of God! But the angel told her not to be afraid and Mary responded: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). From that moment, she welcomed this special son.

We only have a few snapshots of Mary’s relationship with Jesus:

  • When he was born and the shepherds visited the manger, sharing their stories with Mary and Joseph, Mary ‘treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart’ (Luke 2:19). Why had angels appeared to the shepherds to announce his birth?
  • When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple, Simeon blessed them and he told Mary: ‘a sword will pierce through your own soul also’ (Luke 2:35). This was more to ponder. What did it mean? What lay ahead for her, for him, for them?
  • When Jesus was 12 and remained in Jerusalem after Mary and Joseph had left, they had to retrace their steps and they found him in the temple, chatting with the teachers who were there. Mary ‘said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.’ (Luke 2:48-50).  To our ears, this sounds almost like a rebuke from her not-yet-a-teenager son. But we read that he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart’. It was more to think about.
  • At the wedding in Cana, when they ran out of wine, Mary went and told Jesus the problem, but he said to her ‘ “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” ‘ (John 2:4-5). Again, it seems that Jesus almost rebuffs Mary – but her trust in him is implicit –  “Do whatever he tells you.”
  • One day, when Jesus was engaged in his public ministry, Mary and her other sons went looking for him. He was told they were outside, desiring to see him but he said: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:21). It must have seemed to Mary that he was keeping his distance from her and his brothers.

Mary’s relationship with this son of hers must have given her plenty to ponder, plenty to wonder about.

But, like any mother would do, she stood at his cross and broke her heart. This baby she had brought into the world in such miraculous circumstances, this child who had such wisdom, this young man who had turned water into wine, who had healed the sick and raised the dead, this miracle-worker, this healer, this preacher, this teacher – was her beloved son.

No son should die before his mother. And no mother should have to watch her son die, especially like this.

And so she stood at the cross, supported by her sister and her friend, determined to stay till the bitter, bitter end.

She heard every word he said – what we have come to call the Seven Words of the Cross:

-When he spoke to his Father about those who were crucifying him: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

– When he spoke to the dying thief hanging beside him: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).

-When he cried out with a loud voice: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

-When he said simply: “I thirst.” (John 19:28).

-When he uttered those climactic words: “It is finished,” (John 19:30).

-When he finally relinquished his spirit: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:36).

But there were words which were specifically spoken to his mother Mary. We are told that ‘standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.’ (John 19:25-27).mary and john at the cross

As the soldiers laughed and divided his clothes among them, Jesus must have seen and heard them while he struggled to draw a breath. But he also saw his mother Mary, standing with her sister and her friend. Some of his last words were reserved for her: ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ and to John he said ‘Behold, your mother!’. He wanted to make sure his mother had someone to care for her. He chose ‘the disciple whom he loved’, the one who had been close to him, the one who had sat beside him at the Last Supper, one of the three who had gone with him to the Garden of Gethsemane, the one he knew he could trust to look after his mother.

If Mary had ever wondered about Jesus’s love for her, she knew in that moment that he loved her.

 

 

My God, why have you forsaken me?

Jesus cries these words from the cross, after three hours of darkness which ‘covered the whole land’. We can only imagine, can only speculate as to what happened in those three hours of darkness. We do know that God the Father forsook God the Son as Jesus fought and won the battle against the darkness, against death, against sin – forever.

Jesus suffered the worst – separation from God – that we might have the best – a relationship with God forever. Jesus was forsaken by God that we might never need to be.

How great the pain of searing loss,

The Father turns his face away.

As wounds which mar the chosen race

Bring many sons to glory.

Jesus knew the theology of it all. He knew that God the Father had to leave him alone while he took the sin of the world. In Gethsemane, we realise that he knew that. ‘If it is possible, let this cup pass from me…..nevertheless….your will be done.’

So why does he ask ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ It was not a theological question. It was a cry of anguish, as the Father abandoned him to the darkness of separation from God.

And it silences the debate about whether we can ask God ‘Why?’.

As Mags Duggan says of her own experience:      empty bowl

” ‘Why?’ was not a word of doubt, but of naked trust. It was an honest admission of my own lack of wisdom and, perhaps more, an admission that God and his ways were so beyond my own understanding, that through my own thinking I couldn’t even begin to fathom what was going on….The word ‘Why?’ was the empty bowl which I held out before God, day after day, trusting, hoping, it would be filled with answers, with reasons, with peace.” p.47, God among the ruins.

So don’t be afraid to hold out your bowl and ask God ‘Why?’.

And, as we contemplate Jesus asking ‘Why?’,  let’s thank him. Jesus suffered the worst – separation from God – that we might have the best – a relationship with God forever. Jesus was forsaken by God that we might never need to be.

He’s in the waiting

Whether it’s a child impatiently waiting for the school holidays, or an engaged couple candle and flowersexcitedly planning their wedding day, or a pregnant mum in the third trimester eagerly awaiting the birth of her baby, or a family gathered around a bedside, anxiously waiting for a loved one’s suffering to be over – we all know what it is to wait.

And most of us don’t like it. It seems pointless. It’s frustrating. We just want the waiting to be over, so that we can get to the thing we are awaiting.

And yet there is so much happening in the waiting that we are mostly unaware of. This time of year gives us such vivid images of this very thing, as winter evolves into spring and we see buds and blossoms popping up, almost from nowhere. Yet in the depths of winter, when it seemed all was dark and cold and hard, there was deep work happening which has caused all of this new life to be birthed now.

So it is with us. God is in our waiting. It’s painful and it often seems meaningless and we may never know what God is doing in it – but He’s in it with us. The beautiful words of this song – which you can listen to here – say it much more eloquently than I can:

“Take Courage”
Slow down, take time
Breathe in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He’ll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory
And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory!

May you find God in your waiting today.

From where I sit…

‘From where I stand’ was the title of the women’s conference hosted by King’s Church in Bangor this weekend. We were encouraged by guest speaker Sarah Bessey to love Jesus and love his Church, to stand fearlessly as women where we are and to dare to make a difference for the kingdom.

We also heard the stories of women who had lived through abuse; women who had followed God’s promptings in their lives, whether to start a drop-in coffee shop in Bangor where all are welcome or to live in a country where it is dangerous to be a Christian; women who fight for social justice; women who foster unwanted or neglected children.   We heard from women who are on the frontline for Jesus right now; and we also shared stories about mental health issues.

The common thread throughout all of these stories was that each of us can dare to stand today, wherever we are, and bring Jesus into our lives and into the lives others – even those of us who are broken and struggling and not sure what the future holds. Jesus comes to where we are, he makes a difference in our lives and he uses us to make a difference in the lives of others.

So today I am sitting at home and I’m thankful:        rocking chair

  • thankful for what I heard over the weekend from so many women and for the reminder that we can all bring Jesus into our lives from where we stand.

 

  • thankful also for International Women’s Day last week when we were reminded of women who have made a difference in our lives. I am grateful for the many women who have influenced me throughout my life, mentoring me before mentoring was a buzz word, just pouring their love into me and believing in me.

 

  • thankful for Mother’s Day today and the privilege-beyond-belief of being a mum to two young women who are bringing Jesus to where they stand and also embracing motherhood at the same time – one has just become a mum and the other is about to become a mum. It has been such a joy to mother them and it is such an incredible privilege to become a grandmother to their children. 

So, wherever you stand today – whether you are standing fearlessly as a dangerous woman of God; whether you  are feeling broken because of abuse or mental health issues or other challenges; whether you are a mum or not – know this:

God has created you in the image of God, as a beloved child of God, with a unique set of gifts and skills. He delights in you and sings love songs over you. He whispers courage in your ear and asks you to dare to stand where you are, for him.

Snow has fallen…

The current cold snap in the UK brings to the fore both good news and bad news.snowy seat

While there are horror stories of people being caught in freezing conditions – and tragic  loss of life – there are also great stories of people helping each other out: a stranded bridegroom getting a lift to his wedding; a young husband delivering his wife’s baby at the side of the road; not to mention an NHS physiotherapist I happen to know who walked 4 miles to work.

In my own place of work, there were fewer of us than usual present because some people hadn’t been able to make it in. But among those who were there, there was an air of camaraderie, of being in this together, watching out for one another, making sure we were OK.

It strikes me that many of us in the UK currently suffer not much more than having to stay indoors – maybe having to reduce our social calendars and postpone some events we were looking forward to. But then we find that the enforced time indoors actually does us a lot of good. We curl up by the fire, eat some homemade food and actually spend some time together. The pressure of social engagements is removed and life slows down. And we find ourselves enjoying the slower pace of life, the time to reconnect with each other.                                  cosy

So…..before we return to our frenetic lifestyles, what would you like to learn from this cold snap? Looking out for one another in our communities is an obvious one. But what one little change could you make to your lifestyle in order to carry some of the goodness of this week into next week or next month?

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Combine in bowl, for marinade:                  

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp soy sauce

Add to marinade and let stand 20-30 minutes:

500g chicken, diced

Prepare and set aside:

1 clove garlic, minced

4 slices ginger root, finely chopped

1 green pepper, cut in chunks

1 onion, cut in wedges

1 tomato, cut in wedges

3/4 cup pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)

Combine and set aside:

3 tbsp vinegar

3 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp cornflour

3/4 cup pineapple juice

Heat in a wok or skillet:

4 tbsp oil

Dredge chicken pieces in cornflour and fry in oil till brown.

Remove from wok and keep warm.

Stir-fry garlic, ginger, peppers and onions 2-3 minutes.

Add tomato chunks, pineapple chunks and sauce ingredients.

Cook just until sauce thickens and clears.

Return chicken to wok, heat to bubbling, and serve immediately with rice.

Onions and peppers should be partially crisp.