Friday, December 8, 2017

A Crowd of One


This is the first sign of Christmas in my house, and the last to come down.  In fact, the Holy Family and a rotating guest or two stays out all year for good measure.  There is such a crowd here, seeking a glimpse of the child in the manger. 

Alongside the many animals who gathered (which includes a German Shepard and a couple of pigs - how odd), are several who didn't make the Biblical recitation of the event.  There are the well-dressed and the beggars, the young and the old, the worshipful and the awestruck.  They are all hurrying to see the Earth's Savior.

The same still happens this time of year: at Christmas concerts and tree lightings and shopping malls.  Hurrying throngs, awestruck and hopefully worshipful.  But even as we all rush in the same direction; the truth is we rush on individually.  Yes, Christ came to save the world, but He does it on a one-on-one basis.  It is the individual heart that must come to him:  young or old, well-dressed or ragged - even well-dressed and ragged.  Regardless of the crowd that presses in upon us, the journey is made in solitude - one Savior, one saved at a time.


Take a break from the crowd this season - just come!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wait!

Is there ever a minute longer than the one 
you wait for with a microwave?

Or how about that first cup of coffee?


But imagine the Israelites and 40 years!!!
Or
Waiting for the messiah to come!!
Or
Waiting for the messiah to return.

They tell me it's called perspective. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Angel Songs

"She sings like an angel."  Well, no, no one has ever said that to me - something about a tune and a bucket, maybe, but never an angelic comparison.  I'm not offended.

I wonder, though, what would an angel's song actually sound like?  Beautiful, to be sure!  But maybe too beautiful for mere human ears to take in.  I mean, when the shepherds heard just one angel, that angel had to calm them.  "Fear not," he (she?) assured them.  And let's assume that had a profound effect on the watchers of sheep and they let their fear melt away.  And then an unimaginable number MORE angels made a sudden appearance.  I might be tempted to think the first angel had been speaking sarcastically!

All those singing heavenly voices belting out their best "Glory to God in the highest!"  Imagine the loudest concert you have ever attended, in the smallest room possible, with an enthusiastic crowd singing along, and King Kong on drums, and the biggest and best amplification.  Then raise it to the multitude!  It had to sound like thunder - the kind that booms suddenly and immediately overhead!  The kind that reverberates in your bones!

Imagine Heaven, who had been anxiously waiting for Earth's salvation, bursting into song.  Now THAT is an angel song - one that cannot be even closely approximated by mere human.  But that won't stop me from trying!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Faith

Christmas is Faith.

Sometimes I feel like I have faith like a mustard seed.

And that's good. 
It's not my amazing faith at work but rather
Jesus' amazing work through
that little tiny mustard seed I provide.

Matthew 17:20

Monday, December 4, 2017

dread and anticipation

It starts on the day after Thanksgiving, in the crawl space - that deep, dark, dreaded place where things go to die.  Well, if not to die, at least to ferment.  Nothing that goes in there comes out quickly - except maybe the grandloves.  They are small enough to fit, yet wise enough to avoid that space.  While I, too, come out as quickly as possible, it is never quickly enough.  But since that is where Christmas slumbers from mid-January to November, that is where I must go.

I dread the trip into the crawl to revive Christmas.  I dread hauling the boxes upstairs.  I don't even enjoy the decorating as much as I should - not Grinch-like, but not nearly Elf-excitement, either.

Are two trips into that dreaded abyss within 6 weeks really worth it?  Why even bother? Well, dread is subservient to anticipation:  the anticipation of family and friends, gatherings and joyous refrains, and perhaps a glimmer of the love that brought Jesus to earth so many years ago.  Happy anticipation trumps all - even a trip into the crawl space.

It makes me wonder about Mary, though - a teenaged girl, newly engaged, and mysteriously pregnant.  Dread had to be at the top of her list.  What will the neighbors think?  What will Joseph do?  How is this even happening!?  And yet, the miracle of a child growing within - and more so, the promise of a Savior!  How does a heart hold that kind of anticipation without bursting?

In this Christmas season, may all our anticipations come true, but may we lean into the dread, as well.  We live between the famous duo, as one sharpens the other.  Dread loses its dreary edge in the light of anticipation, even as anticipation's crisp brightness revives us from that memory of where life has taken us against our will.  

Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases, even with, especially with, a side of dread.

Friday, December 1, 2017

25 Days

Wonder if we have it in us.
Facebook has a fun challenge 
going around at the moment.

7 days of black and white pictures
that describe your life.
No people.
No pets.
No caption.

We both took that challenge 
and actually really enjoyed it.

Lory and I took a break from our annual
Advent Blogs last year because,well, 
life.

My Christmas did not go well.
Now, I won't blame the lack of blogs
but I might attribute the lack
of deliberate focus
on the
Reason For The Season
for playing a part in my downfall.

Not this year.

We are challenging ourselves to 
25 Days Of Photos.

Black and white.
Subject: What is Christmas.
Words, optional.

If you want to play along, post your photos
in the comment section 
on Facebook.

Let's see where this goes!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Lasagna Soup

This was wonderful!
And it gave me another plus for the Instant Pot
over a slow cooker.

I'm in and out of the house most days.
When I have something cooking in the slow cooker,
while it smells wonderful,
it makes me hungry ALL day!

 This would have done me in.


The only change I made to the recipe was that
I used bulk Italian sausage 
instead of ground beef.
I say, when you see a chance for more flavor, 
take it!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Can You Instant Pot It?

In the spirit of
Good Mythical Morning, 
who love to ask if you can 
(insert word that is not a verb)
it.

Meatloaf.
Can you?
(Photo disclaimer, I am not a food photographer
and don't ever claim to be. Those colors are horrific!)
Nonetheless,
Why, YES! You can!
I looked around to figure out the method
people were using and
determined I could
use my family recipe for meatloaf.
It seems 2 pounds of meat was the 
consistent amount used.

Most of the recipes I found have you cook
potatoes in the pot at the same time
and then mash them.
I imagine, 
in my limited knowledge of all things Instant Pot,
part of the reasoning is, 
you have to have some liquid in the pot 
to achieve pressure cooking status.
I think.

I added 3 smashed cloves of garlic along with
one cup of chicken stock
to about 6-8 quartered potatoes.

I put a piece of foil over 
the rack and built my meatloaf on that
and then placed that right on top of the potatoes.

The recipes I found said to cook on high for 25 minutes.
Mine took more like 30 minutes.
(and do a quick release)
It was also suggested you throw it under the 
broiler for 5 minutes.
The meat is a little pale right out of the pot.

Given that you've cooked it on the foil lined rack, 
transferring it to a sheet pan is not problem
and no mess.

And!!! It slices!!!
I was afraid it would be mushy, all the meat I've
cooked so far has been fall apart tender. 
And the potatoes were amazing!

I may be being won over.....


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Instant Pot Musings

I'm pretty sure that my insights into 
this contraption are so profound
that blog posts must ensue.

First, the gasket thing stinks to high heaven.
I don't suppose it's a problem for the general population
 but for me with the sensitive sense of smell
 and migraines triggered by smell, it's an issue.
The smell does not appear to affect the taste of the food
 I cook in it, but I have seen through my internet trolling, 
most people have two gaskets, one for savory and one for sweet.
I think I'm not nuts.
I will store my pot in the basement or garage.
Problem solved.

Second, I'm thinking, 
if some dishes I cook in the oven can be 
converted to this thing 
then my summer repertoire just opened wide up.

Third, if I had to choose between this
and a slow cooker, 
I think this thing wins
because it can slow cook as well.
But then, I own 3 slow cookers.
All varying sizes.
So, maybe if I'm not choosing for me.

Oh! And when they tell you you can cook
whatever in like 5 minutes,
they neglect to mention there are like 10 minutes
of waiting for it to get enough pressure and then
10-40 minutes once it's done cooking
for the pressure to dissipate.
I just feel that's a bit of false advertising
by the community at large.
But that's just me.
Still haven't drunk the Kool Aid.

And these are my deep thoughts
approximately three weeks in.

...Hmmmmm..... 



Monday, November 27, 2017

Instant Pot VS 12 Nights Of Christmas Wine

OK, the Instant Pot never really stood a chance.
But, I gotta say, I was SHOCKED by the number
of my friends who voted Instant Pot when I put it up for a vote.
Have you MET me???

And then the question  begs,
Have you met my mother and aunt?

My husband was the wise man 
who came bearing gifts of wine, 
Mom and Big? The pot :)

So now I am on a journey to determine if I will
drink of the Instant Pot Kool Aid that is 
taking Facebook and Pinterest by storm.

At first I was surprised to learn 
that I had mistaken the word 
"instant"
for
"magic".
It's not magic. 
You still have to prep.
(chop, peel, measure)

It's nice that you can saute right in the pot.
Sweat those onions, brown that meat.
See? Not magic.

I have cooked a whopping three meals in it thus far
and all three were delicious.

I'm still on the fence as to whether it's 
that much better than a slow cooker.
I think you have to decide, do I want to do 
the grunt labor 
at the start of the day or the end.
Most days it's 6 to one, half dozen to the other.

Yesterday may have tipped the scales in its favor.
I walked in the door at 4:30 
and had dinner on the table at 5:30.
This Honey Bourbon Chicken was fantastic.
And don't be mislead, there is NO bourbon in it.
The internet is in a bit of a fight as to why 
it's called this, but bottom line, don't worry when you don't see
bourbon in the ingredients.
It's not there.

Ava loved it, Mike was not as enthused but 
it was a bit sweet, so I will try cutting back on the honey
the next time I make it.

I'm kind of thinking of trying meatloaf in it tonight.
Maybe.
I dunno.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

You only kill a king if he has a kingdom.

After Jesus' crucifixion some of the big shots who wanted him dead
became concerned about his followers. 
Should they hunt them down and kill them as well?
Acts 5:38-39

Kingdom Come!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Best Laid Plans

So, I started off 39 days ago with the
 intention to be
intentional
during Lent.

My hope was that by committing to writing
5 days a week 
throughout the season it would
help me maintain my
 focus on Christ.

And while I may not have taken pen to paper
or, actually, fingers to keyboard,
the entire time, I have maintained that focus.
I have spent time every day in some 
form pondering.
And for me, that's a win.

So here we are at 
Holy Week.
Jesus rides into town on a donkey.
Everybody is happy.
They are laying down a red carpet of green.

How quickly things changed.
Do change.
Are changing.

Monday, March 27, 2017

AI Scavenger Hunt

And here is the result of my 
Art Institute 
scavenger hunt.

This is Peter denying Christ as he is led away
in the background.
 This is Christ being taunted by the soldiers.
 This almost looks like a coloring book to me,
but look at the way the cloth is billowing in the wind.
And check out the little guy in the foreground.
This one kind of slams you in the gut.


I saw quite a few renditions of Christ on the cross.
Here is one that intrigued and troubled me, 
it's by Marc Chagall.
He painted it to draw a parallel between
 the crucifixion of Christ and 
the Nazi's killing the jews.
He was jewish and therefor saw Christ as a 
profit, or wise teacher.
Somehow this troubles me, 
but at the same time, 
it's causing me to think, 
and that IS the point of my whole exercise 
these 40 days.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mary And Her Son.....

OK, now to lighten the mood a bit.
I went down to The Art Institute yesterday
to check out Whistler's mom.

Afterwards I decided to go on a bit of a scavenger hunt
to see if I could make out the whole Easter story
through art.

I came across this piece, and while it's not 
 part of the Easter story, 
it's a good story.
Jesus' first miracle.

It's the wedding at Cana. 
That's the host on the right being amazed
at the wine. 

On the left are Jesus and his mother.
I can't help but see the look on Mary's face as, 
"come on son, take care of this."
And Jesus, 
"Mooooooom."
(with dramatic eye roll)

Jesus became human so he could know our suffering.

Here's the link if you want the deets on the painting.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I Am Remade. Every Day.


There are a million ways that
I am not like Jesus.

But here's one of the biggies:
I'm a reactionary.
You hurt me and I will absolutely react.
I wish I wouldn't.
I wish I could stuff the hurt down and carry on.
I wish I could just pray for those who hurt me,
hold my head up, and move on.

My therapist tells me, you have to address these hurts.
Holding them in will fester and eat you up.
The problem is, there is one hurt little girl 
living inside me
and when she gets hurt, 
well, she reacts like a child that has
 been hurt and doesn't feel heard.
And she does it as a grown adult.
Not pretty. 

Well, that's enough self revelation for a public forum. 
I confess these tender parts to explain 
what Satan likes to do with my hurt.
He likes to turn me in on myself.
I think, look at Jesus on that cross.
He didn't lash out.
He didn't send down lightening bolts.
He didn't curse those who hurt him.

God has been speaking to me through song 
during this rough season of my life.
I was trying to explain to Mike the 
battle being waged inside me
and then a song by
Tenth Avenue North
came on.


I am more than the choices that I've made.
I am more than the sum of my past mistakes.
I am more than the problems I create.
I've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to.

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

Thank you, Tenth Avenue North.

Monday, March 20, 2017

And Then I Just Get Dizzy.....


Going down a rabbit hole.
Ever heard of that saying?
To me, it means a train of thought that 
just turns around and inside of itself.
That's what thinking about Judas does to me.

Christ had to die on the cross.
His betrayal was foretold in scripture.
Psalm 41:9
Someone had to put the wheels in motion.
If not Judas, then someone else, right?

So, I don't mean to try to give Judas a pass,
but I just wonder....

And here my rabbit hole begins.




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Life Is Messy



God has been speaking to me through song during
this difficult season of my life.

I sat down this morning to see where God was going 
to lead me today for my lenten devotion.

This song came on and 
it did me in. 

I am worn.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Enemy #1

Doubting Thomas
He comes a little later in the story
but he's there and there for a reason.

There were a lot of doubters all through the bible.
Abraham and Sarah laughed at God (yikes!)
The Israelites, but come on! 40!! years!!
John the Baptist even questioned if
 Jesus was indeed the messiah.

The opposite of faith is not
doubt
but rather, 
fear.
-Philip Yancey

Doubt can help me define my faith.
It helps me strengthen it, to own it.
Fear causes me to run from it.

The struggle between faith and fear
may be one of our hardest wrestling matches.

There is fear that produces worry
but there is also fear that keeps us from stepping out in faith.


What does stepping out mean?
Mission work?
easy answer.

Giving my time and talents?
no brainer.

Showing that person who is different from me love?
that could be uncomfortable.

Cultivating a servant's heart.
You mean, don't put myself first?
getting harder.

Witnessing?
getting scarrier.

Asking God to reveal His will for my life
and then following what He has answered?
There!

No, doubt is not the enemy,
it doesn't pull me away from God.
Fear.

Sneaky thing, that fear is.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Really.


Lord, I believe, help my unbelief
Mark 9:24

We are supposed to pray with confidence 
but sometimes I wonder, 
Really God? 
Will you really do this?
Really God?
Do you have time for this?
Really God? 
Do you care about this?
Really God?
Could this be your will?
Really God?
Could you make me want your will?

Really.
Mark 9:25



Monday, March 13, 2017

Just Pondering....

I have often wondered, 
who had/has it better,
the disciples or us?

Would it be easier to follow Jesus 
if he were right here with us,
or is it easier to follow him knowing how the 
story plays out?

Sometimes I am mystified by the disciples
 lack of understanding
but also am awed at their
commitment.

Jesus was not exactly what
most scholars at the time thought 
their savior would "look" like.
They weren't expecting a 
lamb.

And when Jesus comes again, 
will I recognize him?
He won't be the Jesus I've come to know. 
He'll be more like what the Pharisees
were expecting, 
the lion.

Just pondering.....





Friday, March 10, 2017

Cracked Vessel

"If you are only getting your spiritual food on 
Sunday mornings,
 then You are doing something wrong."

Very wise words spoken to me in love from a dear friend.
Carol said that to me many years ago and 
it is a comment/advice that I have
thought of often.

There's something else that has stuck with me since
the first time I heard it, 
The only way to keep a cracked vessel full
is to keep it under the faucet.

I have been looking through some old prayer journals
to just get a little inspiration for my lenten thoughts.

There are some pretty powerful 
thoughts and prayers in there!

I will admit my seasons
 of deliberate study and time in the word
ebb and flow, but this vessel
absolutely operates better 
when running on full!





Thursday, March 9, 2017

Peter, Do You Love Me?

Poor Peter.
To have your lowest moments in your life recorded for all history
in the best selling book in all of history.

But then again,  to have God's grace and love for you
recorded for all history....

I like Peter. 
By many accounts he was 
loud, 
boisterous, 
and prone to stick his foot in his mouth.

I like that God chose to use people I could relate to
to teach me.
Peter was far from perfect but God used him 
mightily.

God sees our weaknesses and waits to meet us 
there and restore us.

Peter denied Jesus three times, 
the risen Christ asked Peter
 three times if he loved him. 
That was no coincidence.

Here we go, I'm going to put me in the story.

Merry, do you love me?
Merry, do you love me?
Merry, do you love me?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Putting Myself In The Story


Yesterday I thought about Mary.
Today I am thinking about some low-lifes.
Barabbas
Criminal #1
Criminal #2

What ever happened to 
Barabbas?
Did he continue in his evil ways?
Was he struck by what happened?
Did he turn his life around and come to Christ?
He seems to have faded into obscurity so my
guess is he accomplished nothing great for God or devil.

Criminal #1.
(Being one of the 2 criminals 
meeting the same sentence as Jesus.)
He taunted Jesus to his dying breath.
Luke 23:39
Pretty sure he had a one way ticket to hell.

Criminal #2. 
He started out going along with the crowd.
He got a couple of barbs in as well.
Mttw 27:44
But this guy has a change of heart.
Luke 23:40
And whereas he held the same one way ticket as
criminal #1, he was able to see Jesus for 
who he truly was. 
Broken, bloodied, and near death,
he could still see Christ.

Broken, bloodied and near death, 
Christ still reached out to this sinner and assured him
he would see him in heaven. 

My breaks and my blood may not be visible
but I am one sinner near death who knows, 
I will see Jesus in paradise. 


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

That Sleeping Child You're Holding....

Christmas in March?
Yep, little bit.
I love Christmas music. 
I have been known to start listening to my Christmas CDs as early as the beginning  of November and carry on until New Years.
One of my favorites is
Mary Did You Know
I want to spend some time with Mary.
Mary, did you know?
Did you have any idea?
I'm sure the visit from the angel explaining 
Jesus' arrival helped, 
but did you think you were raising a 
warrior 
when actually you were raising the 
perfect lamb?

 Now, by posting this picture of my baby holding her baby 
I am in no way implying either of 
them have been sent here to save the world, 
but if I want to get close to Mary, 
I just need to draw close to the ones 
I would give my life for and just ponder, 
Mary did you know?


Monday, March 6, 2017

What Would You Change?

Dear Younger Me.
That's the title of a song by Mercy Me.
I really like it.
If I had the chance to tell the younger me the 
things that I know now, 
would I?

I've had some hard times in my life.
Most of them because of my own bad choices.

But I've had some amazing things result from those 
bad choices.
That makes me think of another song,
Blessings by Laura Story.
Sometimes blessings come through tears.

I don't think my bad choices are God's will, 
but I do think it is His will that I turn
to Him, seek Him.

God doesn't take you out of the storm, 
He walks through them with you.

The bible tells me that Jesus asked His Father
to take the cup from Him, 
please don't make me go to the cross.
(Luke 22:42)

Jesus felt abandoned by God, 
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
(Mttw 27:46)

Today I want to remember that Jesus, the best teacher
given to us, knows how hard it is to walk through
the hard times, and perfect as He was, 
He knows  what it is
to fear God's will and even 
search for Him.


PS, if I've done this correctly (LOL)
here are links to the two songs I mentioned.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Forgive Me

I thought about coming up with a theme, 
or direction for my posts to take during Lent. 
Sometimes it's easier to have a map of sorts. 
But for some reason, I have decided (?) 
to just wander and see where God leads me. 
I say decided (?) 
because I think God already knows 
where He means to lead me.
Today I'm thinking about my imperfections, 
and really that's a nice way of saying my failures. 
I know that if I go to God and ask forgiveness, 
he will give it lavishly, lovingly.
I think that I accept that gift, but do I really when
I can't seem to forgive myself?
And is it any wonder that people may not want to forgive me?
I think it's a human thing.
I think we are not natural, born "forgivers".
We can only learn it at the feet 
of the one who forgave us all.
Luke 23:34


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tradition, Old and New

Wow!

It's been so long since I did this that I was barely able to get here!
I re-read my last post, it was about traditions.
Lory and I skipped this tradition this year 
and it seems I skipped my grounding 
of what the season was all about.
Sadly, there was very little Christ in my 
Christmas this year.
Drama ensued and after a 
bit of time, 
and reflection, 
and God being God, 
He helped me see the lessons He had in store for me through my human failings.
God is pretty cool that way.
So, here we are at Lent.
Lent is not "biblical" but it is tradition.
And, whereas, the birth of The Christ Child is the start of the gift that God has for us, Easter is the completion of that gift.
Christ was a wonderful gift to us in and of himself, but the gift He ultimately gave us, on the cross, while messier than that sweet baby, was the sweetest gift of all.