Category Archives: Musings

Fresh and seasoned thoughts about the practice of Sabbath.

A Novice Foodie Blog: Tracy’s Seafood Deli

Kristi and I haven’t had a chance to write a foodie blog in a while, but we’re getting geared up to share a few thoughts about some interesting eating places in 2015. This past week found us at a Port Arthur restaurant: Tracy’s Seafood and Deli.

This a shared blog so we’ll be going back and forth between mine and Kristi’s thoughts.

 KRISTI: Fridays are my favorite day of the week; Jason and I are usually both off work. So we have a thing where we try and find a new eating establishment.  Apparently the extent of our sense of adventure includes nothing more than a fork, but I dig it. Jason posted a picture of yesterday’s day’s eating joint. The picture didn’t do the place justice. Here it is in case you missed it.

Nothing says appealing like a hot pink wave wall painted with primary colored geometric shapes and a nice fake potted palm tree/ivy. That’s why I felt obliged to write a quick post about today’s cuisine.

I’ll let you in on how I found out about this joint. I’ve been in physical therapy for three weeks now because apparently when I behave myself instead of freaking out under stress, the stress just builds up in my neck and shoulders. It makes me wonder if behaving myself is good for my health. The stress had been so built up that I ended up having daily headaches, half of a hand going numb off and on and the feeling of creepy crawlies all over my head, all the time.

Anyway, Dr. Hunt here in Nederland is fixing me up. Part of my therapy is doing these gosh awful exercises for my neck and shoulders, usually three sets of twenty. I have to count for myself so I can’t talk. Others that have been at this a while are pros and can do their exercises and talk at the same time. One guy mentioned last Wednesday that he got the best chicken wings “from the hood” a few nights before. He said the place was named Tracy’s and was on Gulfway. I did my best the rest of my time to count my neck tucks and remember where Jason and I needed to go on our next Heyday Friday.

Friday was wet and cold but there was sunshine in my soul.

 JASON: There are so many great eating spots right here in Nederland that we haven’t ventured out lately. When Kristi overheard some folks talking about this seafood place in Port Arthur that served up some serious chicken wings, I was immediately interested. We had a little time on our hands this past Friday and a few dollars burning a hole in our pockets so we ventured into the heart of Port Arthur to check out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

Where Is It?

I’m not far off when I say Tracy’s is in the heart of Port Arthur. It’s a convenient location to anyone working at the Motiva plant. I’m sure I’d be there as often as I could if I was nearby at lunchtime every day.

 

What’s It Like?

At some point in the past, Tracy’s was a Burger King. They have maintained some of the furnishings, but nothing of the menu. This might be the best repurposing of a fast food place I’ve ever experienced. Don’t come here expecting napkins and silverware on the table. This is a place for hungry people to fill their bellies with fried, boiled or grilled seafood goodness.

 

What We Ate.

I couldn’t just order one thing. I was hungry for seafood and for their chicken wings. I checked out the menu online before going in. I thought the pictures on their website were a little too good to be true. The first image I was really interested in was a platter of jumbo shrimp that were large enough to live up to their oxymoronic name. The shrimp I saw on their website could have been saddled and ridden by small children. I was expecting to be underwhelmed, but I was pleased to find there is still some truth in advertising. Check out this plate of bad-boys I put down.

When I saw the price for the chicken wings, I was a little taken aback. I didn’t scope these out on the web first so I came into Tracy’s expecting the WingStop or Buffalo Wild Wing variety. 6 wings for $10.39 was overcooking my grits, but I didn’t come all this way to turn down a culinary adventure. When they came out of the fryer, my financial frown was turned upside down. When you eat wings at Tracy’s, don’t think about wing pieces. Think about the entire wing, except feathers. This was simple, tasty goodness.

I had leftovers! I brought the box home for the kids to enjoy. They ate everything but the salad. I’m afraid they even ate the bones.

Kristi is an oyster fanatic. If a place has fried oysters, that’s her first stop on the menu. She picked up half a dozen with fries. There are usually pitfalls that we watch out for when ordering fried oysters. The first is over-breading. When a restaurant is serving up the pre-made, stale-off-the-truck, variety of oysters, it shows up first in the breading. The breading can drown out the natural oyster goodness. The next pitfall is the size of the oysters. We’ve been to places where you had to search through the breading to even find an oyster. We don’t go in for the tiny ones. If we can eat an oyster in one bite, it’s No Bueno. Third, it should not be overcooked. These delicate sea goodies cease to be good if they are left in the fryer for too long.

I’m glad to report that Tracy’s gets 5 stars on their oyster prep. Their oysters were HUGE. These were two, or three, bite delights. They were lightly breaded. They were not afraid to let their oysters speak for themselves. The cornbread breading was just enough to make it interesting, but not so much to take away from the oyster experience. Finally, they were cooked just long enough. We like them raw, so undercooking should rarely be a problem. These still contained significant, natural oyster brine, oozing out after every bite.

KRISTI: I had my favorite food cooked just the way I like it. I would say I loved oysters but my grandmother always told us not to say we loved anything besides people. She was THE BOSS and I’m still afraid to not do what she says. Fellow oyster likers can see how big and juicy, and not ruined by too much crust, these oysters are. I hate having to peel off superfluous crust. Fries are usually just a filler in my opinion, but these fries were fresh and well seasoned. They paired well with the homemade tartar sauce which I normally never eat.

Conclusions

If you have a little time on you hand and a hankering for goo seafood, try out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

I’m looking forward to trying the Boiled Crawfish, Crab Legs, and Vietnamese Egg Rolls.

Give them a try and let them know what you think.

4 Decades Never Looked So Good!

I can’t believe this girl is 40!

We’ve been together half of her life, and if I’m lucky, the next half as well.

Check out the hot prom date from 1994. And yes, I’m talking about Kristi!


That was a LONG time ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.


The kids and I are of the same mind today: We Love This Lady!

Don’t take it from me. Here it is in their own words.

From Hayden:

My mom is an amazing woman. I love her very, very much. No matter how much we argue, I know she will always be there for me. She is one of the few people who can put up with me, and for that, Mom, I love you.

Have a Happy Birthday!

Love,

Your Little Boy


 

Hallie made Mom an acrostic:

My Mom Is:

Kind

Really Pretty

Intelligent

Sweet

Thoughtful

Important

I love you very, very much Mom and I hope your birthday is amazing!


 

And Rylie says:

My Mom is bright and really amazing. She rocks! And I love her because she is caring. She likes to dance and sing with me. She is strong hearted and brave. She helps when I’m sad and she calms me down when I am mad. She is the best I could ask for.


I think all of you who know Kristi know the thousands of reasons we have for loving her so much and marking this day as special.

I thank God for her EVERY day!

 


Saved by a Whale, Undone by Worm

The most impressive character in the book of Jonah is the Great Fish, that goes without saying. But perhaps the most important character is the Worm. Talk about contrast!

The Whale (formerly referred to as the Great Fish) was God’s instrument for saving Jonah from the watery grave. The Worm was God’s instrument of saving Jonah from his lack of concern for others.

When God provided the vine to shade Jonah’s head, Jonah was very pleased. But when God sent the Worm to eat the vine and a scorching east wind, Jonah was angry enough to die.

How quickly Jonah forgot that God had impressively saved him!

Saved by a Whale. Undone by a Worm.

This theme of miraculous salvation followed by petty grumbling finds itself all the way through the Bible.

God delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt with glorious wonders and signs, but as soon as they entered the wilderness and discovered they were out of food, they grumbled against God. (My favorite complaint of theirs is found in Numbers 11. They grumble, wishing they could go back to the good ole days of slavery in Egypt where they had, among other things, cucumbers…Yuk).

When God finally straightened out that crew, he sent them to the border of the promised land. Moses sent spies into the land to bring back first-hand testimony of how pleasant the land was. They did bring back news of a pleasant land, but they brought back a large portion of fear as well.

The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.
NIV
Numbers 13:32

This wasn’t the rousing report Moses was hoping for. And the people rebelled and ended up walking around in the desert until a new generation rose up among them; a faithful generation to replace the fearful generation.

These scenes aren’t limited to the Old Testament. They are present among Christ’s first followers. On the night that Jesus was tried and condemned to death, the disciple Peter vowed to stand with Jesus, even unto death. But later that night, as a slave girl recognized Peter as part of Jesus’ group, Peter forcefully denied he even knew Jesus.

Peter, Spies, Cucumbers, and Jonah.

I suppose I should include myself, in this list of sometimes-faithless-followers. Should you join me? Probably so.

We’ve been miraculously saved, only to stumble on something as small as a worm. We’ve forgotten our convictions in order to impress those who didn’t deserved to be impressed. We’ve complained about little things even after God has delivered us from big things. We’ve shown ourselves fearful when we should have been faithful.

I’ve come to appreciate the Worm in Jonah’s story as much as I’ve formerly appreciated the Whale.

The Worm exposed Jonah’s weakness: He was more concerned about a plant than he was about the population of a great city. God used the Whale to get Jonah on the right course.  God used the Worm to give Jonah, and us through Jonah, the right perspective.

But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left–and also many animals?”
NIV Jonah 4:10-11

God Gets the Last Word

Yesterday we began our final look at the book of Jonah (for a while at least). If you’re reading this blog, or if you’ve been to church with us in the month of October, you’ve read part of, or all of, the book of Jonah.

Jonah chapter 4 includes Jonah’s argument with God. Jonah is angry at God for being good to bad people.

He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”
NIV Jonah 4:2

What a Pity Party!


Jonah didn’t agree with God’s plan. This is evident from the first words of the story of Jonah. Jonah ran from God physically. He jumped on a boat and headed toward the other side of the world to escape the good he knew God could do through him.

In the end of the story, Jonah still isn’t happy about God’s plan. He tells God to take his life away because he would be better off dead! Poor Jonah.

One of the gifts of the Hebrew Scriptures is that they teach us how the ancients argued with God. You might not consider that a gift, but it is. Jonah has a full blown argument with God. The Psalms contain a number of chapters where the psalmist argues or complains to God.

Jonah argued with God because he didn’t agree with what God was doing. Jonah had a God sized complaint that human wisdom couldn’t touch. There are some complaints human ears are too small to hear. God was listening even though Jonah wasn’t worth listening too.

I don’t like arguments. I don’t like to be in an argument, and I don’t like being around people who are arguing. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. It’s stressful. While reading Jonah these past few weeks, that’s exactly how I felt while studying the fourth chapter of Jonah.

Jonah does not fit into our modern story telling motif. We expect a story that has a conflict early on (preferably after some character development), lots of good twists and turns while the main character is searching for the solution to the problem, and a satisfactory conclusion of the conflict in the last pages of the book that leave us with the sense that all is right with the world and everyone lives happily ever after.

That’s not the book of Jonah.

The most important aspect of the book of Jonah to take notice of is this: God gets the last word. He permits his prophet to run away. He sends wind and waves and a whale to fetch his prophet and bring him back to the original plan. God uses his prophet to speak a word to a wicked people (a people who subsequently repent and believe in God). Then God allows his intrepid prophet to argue with him. But the book of Jonah does not end with the prophet’s argumentative words; it ends with God’s gracious statement:

But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?
NIV Jonah 4:11

God Gets The Last Word.

We argue with God because we don’t understand his ways. We can’t see the grand scheme as he does. We can’t take in the enormity of the job he is conducting. Our arguments with God, no matter how valid they seem to us, are always out of our smallness. We are too small to see the majestic work of God.

When we start to become like Jonah, we need to stop and remember who gets the last word. God always gets the last word. And thankfully, his word is a word of Grace.

This week, let’s be content with what we understand about God, exercise trust in what we don’t understand about him, and have faith that he is working through lowly creatures like you and me to reach the world we live in.

Speak Lord, Thy Servant Listens….

God’s Grace Means Do Overs Are Allowed

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Jonah chapter three is the part of the story of Jonah that talks about what is arguably the greatest revival of all time. Nineveh, as we will find out in chapter 4, is a city of 120,000 people. It’s such a large city that it takes Jonah 3 days to deliver his message.

It’s amazing that this great revival came through such a reluctant messenger.

Even though the book is named after Jonah, it’s a story about what God does, and how God relates to his people.

For this reluctant prophet, this reserved evangelist, this hesitant herald, God provides a Second Chance!

When God said Go, Jonah said No. When God pointed East, Jonah went West. God’s command to Jonah was to go across the desert, but Jonas’s flight from God took him across the ocean.

You would think God could have found a more fitting prophet to carry his message to Nineveh, but God had his sights set on Jonah. God never gave up on Jonah.

And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time…(Jonah 3:1 KJV)

God is in the business of Second Chances. In fact, God went to great lengths to provide Jonah his Second Chance. When Jonah was on the ship, God provided a wind to stir up the waves. When Jonah was cast into the sea, God provided a great fish to swallow him up. When God was ready to use Jonah, he commanded the fish to vomit up the sour prophet onto dry ground.

What God does for Jonah, he’s done many times for us. God, in his grace, provides Second Chances. You can call them Do Overs: opportunities to start again!

Here’s something to remember about starting again: We can only start again from where we are, not from where we were.

Each of us would love the chance to turn back the hands of time to be able to relive certain seasons of our lives; to improve on some past mistakes. There are periods of our history we are not proud of. We’ve failed and fallen and want a chance to go back and do it right.

But we can’t go back to do it over from where we were, but we can start our Do Over from where we are. God’s grace meets us where we are, and in spite of our shortcomings, says to us, “You can start fresh from right here.”

God’s grace means he never gives up on us. He extends his Do Overs to us, right where we are, right when we turn to him.

Overflow Thoughts from Jonah, #5

God Teaches Us Dependence through Trials

There is something within us that seeks to assert independence from the One who nurtures us.   We see this in toddlers.  I guess that’s why we call the stage that begins when a child starts to talk and walk the “Terrible Two’s.”  The Terrible Two’s survives within us our entire lives.  Sometime it shows up at the worst possible time.

baby's hand

When we think we have things figured out, we tell God, “Lord, just let me take over from here. I’ve got this figured out and I don’t need help anymore.”

In Jonah’s mind, the people of Nineveh didn’t need God or the things of God.  The best way to go about Jonah’s business was to get away from God and as far away from Nineveh as he could get.  He was moving and acting independent from God’s calling on his life.  Jonah was asserting his freedom by fleeing from the commandment God spoke to him.

We might not like depending on another to succeed or survive in life, but God’s plan always involves our dependence upon his strength to carry out our calling. The plans God has for us cannot be accomplished under our own strength.  Jonah could not bring salvation to Nineveh through his wise and persuasive words.  In fact, as we will see when we get to chapter 3, Jonah didn’t use very many words.  He spoke only those words  God spoke to him: “”Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”  In the Hebrew, it’s only 4 words.  This has to be the shortest sermon ever preached!

God broke Jonah’s independence and brought him to a place of dependence in order to do an amazing work through him. We see this again in the work Christ left to his disciples.   They were “Unschooled, Ordinary” men.  But God was able to do something Extraordinary through them.  What God accomplished through them, and what he continues to accomplish through us, has very little to do with the resources we bring to the table and very much to do with the depth of our dependence upon HIM.

Through the 4 words he gave a prophet, God brought salvation to a great city. Through an inconceivable message of resurrection and salvation he gave a handful of men 2,000 years ago, God continues to grow his church and do greater things through us than we could imagine possible.

Our strength lies not in what we can do for God, but rather in the depth of our dependence upon him to work in us and through us.

Overflow Thoughts from Jonah, #4

God Adds to Our Life by Taking from It

The moment Jonah surrendered himself to be thrown overboard and into the sea, he allowed God to take everything away from him. God’s math does not work like our math.  Very often God will take something away in order grow our life.

math symbols

As Jonah hit the water, God took away comfort, freedom, security, hope, etc…  He took everything away from the prophet and then stuffed him in a fish.  We can perhaps better understand this as a pruning.  God had to prune Jonah in order to use Jonah.

God prunes us in preparation to use us as well.

In our lives, we fixate on stuff. It’s easy to get attached to stuff.  God takes stuff away so we can focus on him.

We have ambitions and goals that are at odds with what God desires for us. God takes away our petty goals and our worldly ambitions so we can be ambitious for him and his kingdom.

We get comfortable in life and complacent with the way we are living. God can even take away our comfort to shake us from our complacency in order to spur us on toward the purpose he has for us.

What in your life has God taken away that brought you closer to him? What kind of divine subtraction have you grown from? What in your life, if you threw it into the sea right now, would allow you to pursue God wholeheartedly?