To eat, or not to eat?

IMG_20150103_172451138Although my cooking prowess (or lack thereof) has not yet reached legendary status, there are nonetheless a few stories that can be told within my family.  Pizza, however, is one of my favorites. Not to cook, but to eat, and so I’ve become quite good at doing both, if I do say so myself (and I do.)

I am, currently at this writing, happily anticipating a brand new kitchen.  The contractor comes tomorrow to go over the final game plan, which includes knocking out a wall, etc.  His wife, who helps run the business, is well-versed in kitchens, and made the comment that even though I don’t like cooking at present, perhaps I will enjoy it when I get a new kitchen environment…. Continue reading “To eat, or not to eat?”

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Just another story…

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280When people say the Bible is boring, I have to question if we’re reading the same book.  Okay, so I get a bit bogged down in Leviticus when they’re talking about how to deal with infectious skin diseases, but truthfully, some of the accounts sound like a script straight out of Hollywood.

For example, the well-known story about the widow and her son barely scraping by during (one of) the terrible famines, a consequence brought about by the prophet Elijah at Yahweh’s behest, another attempt to get His people’s attention. God sends His man to this particular household, to a widow and her son, to ask for, guess what—food!  The response he gets is expected.

“But she said, ‘I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.’”

Elijah convinces her that, if she provides him with food and water, God would continue to miraculously multiply her supply to sustain her through the crisis.

What did she have to lose?

“So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days.” 

In Act Two, as if the famine wasn’t enough stress, this kind lady’s only son gets sick and dies.  She confronts the prophet, who has become a boarder during this time.  This widow is now overwhelmed with grief.  Her boy is dead, which back then had more implications than just the loss of a loved one.  Her future just got a whole lot more impoverished, both emotionally, and financially.

“Then she said to Elijah, ‘O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?’”

I love Elijah’s reply.  There’s no “oops”.  He doesn’t wring his hands.  In fact, there isn’t even a note of surprise or worry. 

“But Elijah replied, ‘Give me your son.’”

Once again, what did the mother have to lose?  Elijah takes the lifeless body up to his own room and prays. 

“The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived!  Then the woman told Elijah, ‘Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the LORD truly speaks through you.’”

Which I find to be an interesting reaction from this mother.  Wasn’t the first miracle of the ever-flowing oil and grain enough to convince her of God’s presence working through His prophet? 

Different miracles

The first miracle was a life-sustaining one.  It had to do with maintenance. And it wasn’t like they had a five-course meal everyday, either.  Just enough oil and grain to keep them going, to sustain the life they had until the famine had passed.   

The second miracle was a life-giving one.  That which was dead has been resurrected.  Where life had been extinguished, life had been reborn.    

This gives me pause…

What do I have to lose?

God knows the level of my faith and intimacy with Him.  He also knows how fickle human beings like me (like you?) can be, allowing complacency to set in as what we once wondered at becomes normalcy and therefore taken for granted.  And He knows what is needed to take our faith and intimacy with Him to the next level, to jump start us out of that spiritual malaise. 

In other words, He not only knows how to maintain my dreams, even my faith, but also how to resurrect them and give them new life.

Of course, the first step is to hand it over to Him.

1 Kings 17:12; Hebrews 7:25 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Say, what??

windsor-castle-1253197_1920Bob has been a little concerned about my hearing.  Of course, when it comes to watching our beloved British shows on TV, we both have to turn up the volume, if you get my drift.  Our very entrenched Midwest American minds don’t always pick up the subtleties of our Anglo-neighbors, and we end up asking each other—

“What did he just say?”

“I dunno…turn it up.”

Neither of us want to miss any of the important plot developments for lack of communication, y’know.

Which is absolutely what could have happened here, but thankfully somebody was listening closely: Continue reading “Say, what??”

More than a cowboy hat

IMG_20150103_172451138When we formally met the man who was to become one of our sons-in-law, we wanted to give him “the tour” of the small Midwestern town our girls where we live and are girls grew up.  He is Swedish, but had lived and worked in both the Big Apple and sunny Cal.  However, he had not yet been initiated into rural mid-America.  Even so, he liked camo, and he wanted a cowboy hat. 

He came to the right place.

His soon-to-be sister-in-law, (daughter #2), decided it would be a good idea to devise a scavenger hunt throughout the town, hiding clues in places that would take him all over the familiar haunts including the high school, an old abandoned farm tractor who’s final resting place was behind a local grain elevator, a landmark eating establishment with the finest in traditional, heart-stopping American hamburgers and milkshakes, and the like. 

hat-2738831_1920Of course, the end point was a true-to-earth Midwest Farm and Home store, where he got to pick out his own real life cowboy hat. 

Together, they have since put on a similar “treasure hunt” for his nieces and nephews.  There’s just so much fun in watching the kids’ excitement as they follow the clues and find good stuff! 

Which gives me pause to consider that this enjoyment must have its foundation in Someone who similarly enjoys His children searching and finding.

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”

There is a thought circulating that if God is so intent on us knowing Him, why doesn’t He just make it easier, speaking more directly, personally, getting our attention more efficiently.   Allowing this new member of our family to look for and find each clue was hopefully causing a greater connection with the town (experientially) and with us (personally).  It took some time and creative energy to put that together!  And he was worth every bit of it.

Granted, God has and still could use an occasional burning bush, talking donkey, or disembodied hand writing on the wall, I suppose.  Those tend to be a bit more compelling, but not necessarily as effective toward His everyday purpose.  Which is…?

Glad you asked.

“And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.”

Eternal life—not just pie in the sky by and by, but true moment-by-moment intimacy with Creator God.  Right now.  Nothing less. 

However, the funny thing about clues is that they are easily missed unless one is actively looking for them.

“The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.”

We were not about to let our daughter’s loved one miss out on even one clue, as we gathered around him to help him out, (which is a huge part of what God’s family is supposed to be doing with each other as well.)  We knew what we had waiting for him at the end of the ordeal.  crown

And so does God.  Only it’s not a cowboy hat… 

John 15:17; John 17:3  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Table-turning

Underdog_(animated_TV_series)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The iconic Underdog character was birthed from the mind of W. Watts Biggers. I think he intuitively knew our American mindset in this area!

Why am I always rooting for the underdog?  I love David and Goliath stories, and how the tables are turned on the bullies, whether that bully comes in the form of a person or an attitude.  Like this one: Continue reading “Table-turning”

Make mine a double-dip

I just heard the local ice cream truck go down my street singing out its familiar tune to announce its confectionary delights.  This is not altogether unusual…except that it’s December!

Now, that’s what I call optimistic.

Or on second thought, maybe not.  We are a people addicted to pleasure in general, sugar in particular, and c’mon, some things are just never out of season.  I mean, if I can buy strawberries at the local Walmart in winter, why not ice cream?  In fact, why not strawberries on the ice cream? 

Thus, I applaud the ice cream truck in December.

There are other things that seem unusual, unexpected, but are nonetheless always welcome.  Continue reading “Make mine a double-dip”

Sticks and stones really do hurt

wood 2Believe it or not, they come in all colors, shapes and sizes, even genders and age groups.  They’re pretty universal.  And they’re getting quite a bit of well-deserved press these days.

Bullies, that is.  We even had to watch a mandated presentation at work about bullying and related topics of abuse that can happen in (and out of) the school environment.  After all, it is the responsibility of every adult to endeavor to make the school a safe place for the children. 

Of course, one would think that concept was also universal, but alas… Continue reading “Sticks and stones really do hurt”

Pick up your mat and walk…where?

wood 2I don’t mean to be a cynic. In fact, most people who know me probably wouldn’t think of me that way, if they thought about me at all, which they probably rarely do anyway.

How’s that for cynical?

But no, that’s just realistic. 

C’mon, we all do it, see the world through our own eyes, at least to begin with.  What’s their angle and what’s in it for me.  Everything from Wall Street to Main Street to the garage sales on my street, we want the best bargain with the lowest possible personal sacrifice. 

Perhaps, such was the case of the man lying crippled for thirty-eight years by the Pool of Bethesda.  The treatment modality of the day had to do with waiting until an angel stirred the waters, and whoever got in first was healed.  (Not sure about the veracity of this method, no double blind studies back then, but hey…)

Jesus shows up and we listen in on the conversation:

“When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, ‘Would you like to get well?’”

I love how Jesus (a) doesn’t assume what the person wants, and (b) requires the person to verbally identify what it is they desire of Him. 

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

So, in reference to (b) above, notice that the man merely makes an excuse for why he must stay infirmed, not what he actually desires.  Hmmmm….

Undeterred, his Creator makes the decision for him:

“Jesus told him, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!’”

“Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected.”

(So what else is new?)

“They said to the man who was cured, ‘You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!’”

“But he replied, ‘The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

“Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.

“The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, ‘Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.’” 

Initially, one would think this man, being in the Temple, was worshipping God for his healing. That’s a possibility, maybe.  However, we have lots of folks going into church buildings for reasons other than God in our century also.  I’ll leave it at that, because after Jesus’ injunction about changing his lifestyle, this guy seems to have second thoughts, as in, “Wait, you mean there are some moral ramifications???”  

“Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.”

This man was no dummy.  Don’t think for a minute that there wasn’t plenty of time sitting around that pool to hear loads of town gossip about Jesus and the Jewish leaders.  I don’t mean to impugn someone’s motives who isn’t here to defend himself, but…

“So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules.”

Blessings without change, salvation without sanctification, affected holiness without hardship. It is the church’s undoing.  Subsequently, we become mere subculture instead of counterculture. Where’s the modern-day Job who says, “Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him”, rather than merely showing up for the church picnics?

Seems like many want a piece of the pie, but few can stand the heat of the kitchen.

That’s not cynical; it’s just realistic.

John 5:6-16 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

Office hours 24/7

wood 2My husband, Bob, is a biology prof at a small college in a small Midwestern town.  His classes have been very unique, sometimes only comprised of, say, five or so students learning genetics or molecular biology.  I mention this by way of context, since despite the small size, he also has plenty of office hours, and even with those, is quite flexible and available, and has even had an occasion of a personal phone call or two about an upcoming test. 

In other words, he makes his knowledge very accessible to his students. 

Unfortunately, in the 25+ years that he has prof’d at this college, I have heard plenty about the genre of students who don’t bother to utilized what he so generously offers, don’t even show up for lecture or lab…and thus the “down notices” go out needlessly.  He hates that, because he does everything he can to help his students succeed.

So, I get a little confused when the greatest Teacher Continue reading “Office hours 24/7”

Feast on which beast?

NR thanks
Thanks to Norman Rockwell for this amazing painting: Freedom From Want.

This is the time of year I really kind of wish I had a chest freezer down in the basement.  The 20+ pound turkeys are on mega-sale, and the fresh cranberries will only be around for a month or so.

No matter, as the traditional American Thanksgiving Day feast that so many of us are blessed to gorge ourselves on will, by God’s grace, come around again next year.  My sister-in-law is the usual head chef at our yearly family gathering.  (Personally, I prefer to stay in the background and help with the clean-up.)  The main thing with the traditional meal, however, is the fun and hilarity that can follow shortly after about the first ten minutes of feasting and before the tryptophan kicks in. Continue reading “Feast on which beast?”