Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Call for Prayer

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Not being on Facebook anymore, I find that my contact with lots of people is rather limited. (I have to acknowledge that I don't really miss Facebook, and I haven't until now, when I wish I could bring this to the attention of a thousand people!)

I do, however, have THIS blog! And for the twelve or so readers I may have, I'd like to request prayer today for my sweet friend Kathleen. I have a button on my blog for Cale's Recovery (or, now, I guess it's The Boy & Girl), but I want to draw specific attention today to these amazing friends of mine.

As little bit of a side note and personal experience: about six years ago, Brian was involved in an accident that blinded his right eye. Fortunately, the emergency surgeon was able to save the eye itself from having to be removed. When the accident happened, people all over the country were praying for Brian. Those prayers were definitely needed at that time, and I believe those prayers worked miracles in Brian's eye and life. Now, since he still has his original eye, we cling to the hope that he will someday be completely restored. However, as life has continued and the world has kept spinning, new tragedies have occurred and new prayer requests have been brought up. It's easy to forget about people who still need prayer, and I know that the number of people still praying for Brian are much fewer. I do not say that with any trace of bitterness, because I know that's life. I do.

But it's different with Kathleen and Cale. Their lives still need tremendous prayer.

Today, without complaint or self-pity, Kathleen shared openly about the struggles that she's encountered over the past few days. This girl is a constant fountain of joy and encouragement, and it's not fake - it's Christ shining through her. But life with a husband recovering from traumatic brain injury is a trial. It's not a trial that goes away and then comes back after a few weeks. It's not something that she can forget about while they relax at home. Kathleen has remained more than faithful to the Lord and to Cale throughout this journey. Let's, PLEASE, be faithful to pray for them. For her.

I know there were thousands of people lifting Cale and Kathleen up. I know life has a way of making us forget about these things over time. But please, please pray for them today. Please write them on your calendar. When you are struggling with the common issues of life, issues with kids and spouses and family, please remember that there is a 24-year-old girl who is needing tremendous encouragement and blessing from the Lord. Not many of us will be called to walk where she is walking. When someone weaker would have turned her back on this path, Kathleen has embraced it.

Please, let's embrace her. Let's lift her and Caleb before the Lord today.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2


Friday, October 21, 2011

Montana, Part 2.

Day 4

It was so refreshing to be able to take a shower and sleep in a soft, cushy bed. Brian and I slept in until 7:30 or so, enjoyed some coffee, and waited for my friend's husband to get home from his work shift. Around ten, when they told us that they wouldn't be able to go to Glacier with us, Brian and I embarked on the 50-60 minute drive to the national park. The weather was perfect and the park website stated that the road extending through the entire park was completely open and unblocked.

Below is the map of the park, with red arrows drawn at the entrances.

I thought that Glacier could only really be enjoyed by hiking through it, but it turns out I was wrong. A road approximately 50 miles long goes through the park, and by driving through it you can see AMAZING things. So my poor feet were able to relax. In fact, the days that we were at our friends' house, I wore socks and flip-flops everywhere we went. I looked like a hillbilly, but my feet felt good.

Glacier Park was more amazing than I could have imagined! Of course, pictures can't possibly do it justice, but we took way too many anyway. I'll probably post way too many too, but you can scroll through quickly.

A huge section of the road through the park is halfway up a mountain, carved into the side with an enormous drop-off immediately over the safety wall (which is low, for the view). Even though I was sitting in the passenger seat on the right side of the road (hugging the wall of the mountain), I was shaking in my boots! Of course, there was no way we'd fall off the mountain, but humongous valleys hundreds of feet down have a way of making me feel that anything was possible!

About ten miles into the park, Brian mentioned that... uh... we were pretty low on gas. "No problem," I reassured him. "This road is only fifteen miles long."

"Fifteen?" he asked. "I don't think that's right. I think it's fifty."

Fifty miles it was. And suddenly, who was worried? Yup, the Maeg. Oh no! We're going to run out of gas and block this narrow road and have to walk thirty miles to where the next gas station is... or hitch hike with someone who's not going to want to rush us to the gas station, they're going to want to stop and sightsee along the way! And the whole day will be ruined and ohhhhhh noooo!

Helpfully, Brian called out the play-by-play: "Uh-oh, we're down to an eighth of a tank! Uh-oh, we're definitely on E! Haha!" I was... quite uptight. Eventually he told me to relax... nothing that bad could possibly happen and even if we did run out of gas, it would be an adventure!

And it was an adventure, because for almost the entire way down the mountain, we drove in neutral, or Brian turned the car completely off as we coasted down the road!

Now tell me, why, why, why, do I ruin perfectly nice moments by worrying about things that might not (and most often DON'T) happen?

So, we didn't run out of gas. It turns out that by driving UP the mountain on an incline, the level of gas was tilting up and down, and the gas gauge wasn't giving us an accurate reading. We had much more than an eighth of a tank. When we reached the end of the park, exited through the gates, and rolled into the gas station parking lot, we still had plenty of gas.

So we agreed to drive through a second time. Feeling much more relaxed, I volunteered to drive so that Brian could enjoy the view of the dropoff just beside our lane. Honestly, I felt more in control driving... so that was fine. I sound like a big pill, huh? I tell you what... this park was breathtaking, but I am a big scaredy cat. It's true. I admit it.

We had a wonderful time together. Brian and I were in awe of the mountain views. We took far too many pictures, but none of them captured the amazingness of this place. If you're ever near Browning, Montana, I highly recommend it.

Lake St. Mary... incredibly blue.

Below you can see orange cones marking part of the road, and the smaller part of the ravine immediately off the shoulder.

Below you can see the road carved into the side of the mountain. This picture does not accurately portray the magnitude of this mountain- it was HUGE. Not to mention, the ravine drops off even further beyond what you can see.

I wanted to pull off to the side of the road, so I could take off my socks and flip-flops, and wade in the water. Let me tell you, this stuff was basically freshly-melted snow... COLD! (Yes, even in September, at the end of the summer. You can still see snow on these mountains.)

Further down the road, the stream deepened to a creek that was AMAZINGLY clear and blue, flowing over brilliant red rocks. Deep in the water we could see large fish swimming. Brian took about two dozen photos of this water!

Below are three shots of a guy jumping off a huge rock into this water. I don't know HOW in the world he didn't freeze to death, but it did look really refreshing!

In mid-air! See the grandpa with his hands to his head in amazement/shock/horror? Ha ha!

Brian walking by Lake McDonald.

There's not much to be said to explain most of these. Gorgeous views, incredible mountains, and the best company I could have asked for! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Red Wine Braised Venison and Mushrooms

For our second installment in the WonderWife Venison Recipe Collection, I give you a recipe that's perfect for chilly fall days and makes the house smell amazing. Unlike venison steak, which needs a tender cut of meat and is best medium to medium-rare, this dish utilizes a tougher cut of meat and is better the longer it cooks (like a stew). This would be perfect in a crockpot.

(I just want to add, as a disclaimer, that none of these recipes are my original creations - I'm not that great of a cook! But I've tested them and we like them, so I figured I'd share them with you all. This recipe in particular is adapted from this one from AllRecipes.)

This is very simple. Chop two onions and a heap o' garlic. Slice a pile of mushrooms... this is maybe 8 oz? Set those aside. (Now, I chop the vegetables first because I like to wash the cutting board only ONCE... and this may be just me, but after the cutting board is covered in meaty juice and gunk, I don't feel like chopping vegetables on it. But since you're using the meat first, you can do this in any order you like!)

Next, take a tough cut of venison - this one weighs about a pound and a half, perfect for the two of us plus leftovers - and slice into 'steaks'. Toss the steaks in a large bowl with about a tablespoon of corn starch, seasoned salt, and pepper.

Heat a hunk of bacon fat (or another fat/oil) in a skillet on HIGH. Brown the steaks - about 2.5 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate.

Now, heat a bit more fat, and brown the mushrooms on HIGH - you want some dark spots on those puppies. When that's done, scrape 'em off to the side, add a bit more fat, and brown the onions and garlic. Don't worry about caramelizing them or anything. They'll get nice and soft over the long cook time.

Remember to give everything a good sprinkle of salt!

While those are cooking, get the rest of your ingredients ready. Here we've got a couple stalks of rosemary (dried would be fine too - just use way less), a heaping teaspoon of French onion soup mix (you can substitute beef bouillon), half a teaspoon of pepper, and half a teaspoon of powdered thyme. I've also measured two cups of red wine.

When the onions and mushrooms are browned, nestle the steaks in among them and add the wine, seasonings, and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Now, I haven't pictured this, but you want to COVER this skillet. I used aluminum foil. At that point, I could have put the skillet in the oven at 300, but I didn't want to heat up the house. I let it cook on the stovetop for 6 hours or so on low. I made sure I could hear a bit of bubbling.

With this dish, the longer you cook it, the better. Six hours is the minimum time I'd do. I've cooked it for less and the results have been edible, but you want fork-tender, falling apart meat.

When you uncover the skillet, there will still be liquid. Simmer it for a bit - maybe 20 minutes? - to thicken it up.

When it's done, it'll be steak and mushrooms with a good bit of gravy at the bottom.

Now, that doesn't look very pretty.

There! Much better. Haha!

Plate it up with some good fall veggies on the side, and you've got yourself one delicious venison meal. Not gamey at all!


P.S. What do you all think about the collage-style photos? Better than normal single photos? Not doing it for you? Let me know what you think!