People often ask me about the name of my blog... click here to read the story.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Laughing at the days to come...

If you read this blog with any regularity you know I'm always wanting more in this life...searching for deeper purpose and meaning...longing for more intimacy in relationships...striving to be everything God intends me to be.
Well, I'm not a New Years Resolutions kinda gal. Never have been and really don't know why. I just know I'm not. But when my friend
Jennifer wrote about a "word for the year" my interest was sparked. Coming up with a single word for the year doesn't feel like a resolution to me but a focused call to more. Yeah, a focused call to more...I want that.
Thinking, praying, reading and trying to come up with the right word here are a few of the ideas traversed:


Reading through the book of Proverbs the other day, I inevitably came to the 31st chapter. The last part of the chapter is about "The Woman of Nobel Character". If you're not familiar with it, click
here. Sometimes I read about this chick and I'm in awe. Sometimes envious. Sometimes convicted. But most of the time she completely annoys me. I mean, what's she doing making the rest of us look bad? She basically never sleeps, keeps a perfect home, is an amazing friend, savvy business woman and wise mother. Oh please. So, does the writer really have a wife like this? Maybe he combined all his different wives best traits and came up with this picture? Or was he observing someone elses spouse? Perhaps he's writing to one of his wives for some sort of ancient Mother's Day?

When I finally got over my annoyance with Little Miss. Perfect Proverbs, I started truly rereading the passage with an open mind. The phrase "she laughs at the days to come" struck me. Since turning 40 I don't laugh at all about the future. I worry about the days to come...that our society will collapse, that we'll be broke, that something will happen to my kids, that I'll experience pain unimaginable, that I'll have to work until I'm 80, that we as Christians will face growing persecution.

Why can she-this mythical, perfect, supermom/wife- laugh at the coming days and I cringe?
Because she won't lose her outward beauty? A few phrases later the writer says "charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; no, wrinkles will crop up and everything else will drop down and she will, like the rest of us, succumb to the effects of gravity.
So why can she laugh?
Financial security? Maybe she's got enough in her 401K's to relax and travel in her old age?
The fact that both her husband and children love and respect her?
Does she throw her head back in abandon because she doesn't care what anyone else thinks anymore--is she an early version of a Red Hat--it says she's wearing purple.

The only indication of why she can laugh at the days to come* is implied in the phrase immediately prior: she's clothed with strength and dignity.

physical power: the physical power to carry out demanding tasks
emotional toughness: the necessary qualities required to deal with stressful or painful situations source of support: a source of strength or support

dig·ni·ty [ dígnətee ]
self-respect: a proper sense of pride and self-respect
seriousness in behavior: seriousness, respectfulness, or formality in some body's behavior and bearing
worthiness: the condition of being worthy of respect, esteem, or honor

I know a lot of women who are clothed with strength and dignity as defined above but not all of them laugh at the days to come. Upon reflection, the ones who seem to face the future with a smile have two common denominators: they've accepted their age(or aging) and they're not worried about physical provision for the future.

That touches on something tough for me, something I have a hard time admitting and harder time writing. I feel so shallow. But somehow as I look at the future my fears boil down to aging and money. It's ridiculous, really. And I know it. All the money or physical vigor in the world doesn't ultimately lead to security. Just like more friends doesn't mean less loneliness.
When I dig a little deeper and get honest with myself, it's not really about looks and money, but security which in turn, for me, points to a serious lack of trust.

God's been with me before, but somehow I fear He won't be with me later or He'll be with me, but what He leads me through will be too much.

Ok, I'm starting to ramble.

Sorry. I guess I'm still sorting out more than I thought.

Back to the word for the year thing. I heard someone described once as being curious but not adventurous. That's an apt phrase for me, I believe. Curious? Yes. Adventurous, risk-taker? Ummm, not so much.

So, I think my word of the year will be "yes". To answer in the affirmative to whatever comes my way this year. To not just survive or put up with life, but embrace whatever Providence places in my path... without trust... in hopes that a smile or even a laugh might come along with it.

*The Message: "she faces each day with a smile."
New Living Translation: "she laughs without fear of the future."

artwork: Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Waterson

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Waking up

The cold gave me a quick slap when I shuffled out the door to get the water* for the coffee that I desperately needed. Brisk, bright and beautiful; a perfect albeit cold Christmas morning. Huddled in the freezing van, driving the few blocks to my shop, I started thinking about the houses I passed.
Young widow.
Guy who lives with his mom.
Grumpy couple.
Retired teacher on oxygen...I wonder why he needs it.
Sweet old lady.
Recently abandoned and divorced.
Single mom.
Troubled kids.
Alcoholic dad.
Young family, struck with cancer.
Nice old couple...whew, they're happy...I think.
As I continued on my very short way all I could think of was the song "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beetles:
All the lonely people,
where do they all come from.
All the lonely people,
where do they all belong.
We make a big deal of giving at Christmas. People give to charities, work at soup kitchens, put together care packages for soldiers, collect toys for underprivileged kids and carol at retirement homes. All great things--wonderful things.
But what about all the lonely people sitting alone in their hurt and pain on Christmas morning? Where is the peace on earth and good will toward men for them? Does celebrating the birth of a Savior help ease their pain?
For some of those in the homes I passed, I know it does. Even in their alone-ness, they know peace and joy.
But for many, I couldn't answer because I've never bothered to find out.
After retrieving the water and heading back along the same route, I prayed for each home and prayed that I wouldn't forget about the people tomorrow or the next day or the next. I prayed that somehow, I'd be able to share the love and message of Christmas well beyond December ...that these people in homes would become more than just Eleanor Rigby's and Father McKenzie's to me this coming year.

*my shop has an R/O system where we get our drinking water for home.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happiness in a Bite

**WARNING**if you're a younger reader, my child, my mother or easily offended, skip the first paragraph of the post**

first paragraph

She didn't let me finish my standard phone greeting before interrupting me.
her: Amazing. I'm driving down the road eating it without a fork or plate trying not to think about the points. (weight watchers)
me-with a satisfied smile: Good! I'm so glad you like it!
her: No, I don't like it, I love it. Between this cake and an orgasm, I'll take the cake.
me-laughing: Well, ok then! I'm really glad you like it!

It started with an impulse buy. Wal-Mart. Cold November day. The bottle looked cool and the thought of adding the yummy elixir to my coffee sounded so lovely.

Yes, it was cheaper than Bailey's, but that was ok. I mean, you're just paying for the name right? It turns out, no, you're not just paying for the name when it comes to Irish cream; you are actually paying for quality. And let me tell you, Bailey's Irish cream is superior to the cheap imitation I bought. After one slosh in my coffee and the less than creamy taste it provided, I stashed the bottle away in the back of the fridge between the half finished bottle of disgusting wine and the jar of homemade marmalade that no one liked. There it stayed until a few days ago when I was cleaning the refrigerator.

I decided I didn't want to waste it. So began my search for sweet recipes with the key ingredient of Bailey's Irish Cream (or in my case, the cheaper, non-creamy Carolan's). I found and made Bailey's truffles; they were fine but nothing remarkable. Also, on was this little gem that elicited the rave review from my friend:

Irish Cream Bundt Cake*


1 cup chopped pecans
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur


1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur

Ok, first of all, I did NOT put in pecans. If you know me, you know I hate nuts and think they're a complete waste of time and energy since I have to pick them out of whatever I'm eating. So, I ditched the nuts.

Secondly, I used 3.5 ounces of chocolate pot de creme instead of vanilla pudding because, because, let's face it, everything tastes better with a little chocolate. Those were the only two adjustments I made to the ingredients...well, I might have added a little more Irish cream...

So, mix up the cake and pour into a prepared bundt (I used an angel food cake pan because I don't own a bundt).

Bake it in a 325* oven until it's done (clean toothpick, top springs back, it smells and looks right...pick your method).

While it's cooling, make the glaze.

For the glaze: mix water, butter and sugar in a saucepan and boil for 5 full minutes stirring constantly; remove from heat and add the Irish cream. It really does need to boil this long to have the right consistency.

Poke holes in the cake while it's still in the pan and spoon some of the glaze over it--let it soak in for several minutes.

Turn the cake out onto a plate, poke more holes (lots and lots) and spoon more glaze and wait. Repeat this several times until the glaze is gone. It's a pain in the rear, but it's worth it to slowly allow the cake to soak up the rich buttery glaze little bit by little won't be disappointed by the result.

I also took my pastry brush and brushed the glaze on the sides of the cake.

Serve warm or cooled.

Freezes well.

I also made little loaves and gave them away as gifts (one batch makes 6 small loaves).

It's a yummy unique tasting cake and although you may not react quite as strongly as my friend, I think you'll enjoy it!

*Once again, excuse the crappy photo. I've been coveting the Canon Rebel T2i. Maybe some day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Breaking Point

law suits
lost jobs
lonely women
hopeless men
broken marriages
struggling children
hurting parents
failing businesses

Over the last three days different individuals shared everything in the above list with me.
"God will not give you more than you can handle." Really? That saying is not actually in the Bible. It never says He won't give you more than you can stand. It says in Corinthians that you won't be tempted beyond what you can bear. But He never promises you won't be with faced with trials that are too much.
Job's trials (if you don't know the story of Job click here) seemed like too much. He lost everything. Everything. Children. Money. Business. Health. Friends. He lost it all, yet when his wife (oh lovely woman that she was) told him to "curse God and die", he refused. Why? Because he could handle or bear his loss and heartache? I don't think so. I think he said no to cursing God and uttered "though He slay me yet will I hope in Him" because he understood that the Maker of the universe didn't answer to him. I love when Job, toward the end of the book when confronted by the All powerful God in all His majesty, slaps his hand over his mouth and says "surely I spoke of things I don't understand." No, Job was given more than he could bear. And yet he survived.
God never promises you won't be faced with trials that are too much.
But He does promise His peace.

He promises that His grace will be enough.
He promises that He will never leave you.
He promises you love and mercy new every morning.
So much hurt. It would be easy today to either 1)give pat answers and lovely cliches to all the hurting people in my life or 2) tell them, yep, life sucks, it's hopeless.

But neither of those responses seem, well, adequate or Truthful.
As I sit here and look out at the beautiful blue skies and white frosted trees, I pray.
I pray for honesty and authenticity to meet people where they are in their hurt...
for relief and provision for the dad without work
for sustaining grace for each moment for the anxious mom
for healing and understanding for the marriage on the brink
for a glimmer of hope for the depressed
for a forgiveness and peace for the prodigal
for a friend for the friendless
for wisdom in life changing decisions
for patience between family members
for healthy responses to anger
for restoration
for peace...peace...peace...

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen." ~Paul to the people in Ephesus

**Portrait by Marc Chagall "Job Prays"

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I held the song book for her but there's no need; she can't read or even speak the words anymore. Her hand felt soft and warm in mine. I smiled and she squeezed my fingers. Her eyes lit up as she heard the familiar strains on the piano. Immediately she hummed the tune. She closed her eyes, the edges of her mouth slightly curved in a little smile while she continued humming along. She remembered the song note for note. As we sang, the words fell fresh on my ears.
"Let every heart prepare him room."
She can't speak and doesn't remember or understand enough about her faith to articulate it, yet, as she smiled and hummed it seemed obvious to me that her heart not only had room for, but was praising her Savior, Jesus.
I sat and listened to her and looked around at the Christmas tree in the corner and the wreath adorning the door and remembered how she loved Christmas. Each year she lovingly decorated the tree, put out her Christmas village, the nativity set and her collectible carolers. Powdered crescent cookies and homemade peanut butter cups covered her counter and apple cider with cinnamon red hots perked away while she prepared to celebrate the Holiday with family and friends. She didn't treat any other holiday with this much attention to detail or tradition or care. Christmas was special to her. She once told me that Easter felt solemn because of the weight it carried--the fact that Jesus had to die for her sins overshadowed the fact that He also rose again. No, the joy of Easter was dampened by the death on Good Friday.
But Christmas, well now, Christmas was a truly Holy Day that was all happy and good. A precious baby here to save the world, now that was a joyful occasion.
As we watch her, week after week, slipping away, it's comforting to get little glimpses like this. To remember who she was and what she loved and to listen to her hum a Christmas carol. God hasn't left her or forsaken her. He's still her salvation even as she slowly loses mental and physical ground. He not only accepts, but loves her simple, unencumbered hummed offerings. Her joy seems pure.

Let every heart prepare Him room...may all our hearts be open and ready to receive Him in pure Joy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Reading ancient writers feels like connecting with a past long lost. Their stories and songs echo across the years and even centuries delivering an ongoing message of hope and healing to which I cling. To know that a Spanish monk from the 15th century struggled like me, with God's silence speaks hope and comfort to this weary traveler. To read John Newton's words to so many of his songs and have them express exactly what I'm feeling is nothing short of amazing.
Communion of saints.
Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
Echoes of saints past.
Koininea across the ages.
Whatever you call it, it makes me feel less lonely to know that my experience isn't unique; others have gone before.

On the radio this morning, I heard "O Come O Come Emmanuel".
It's not bright and cheery like Hark the Herald Angels Sing or Joy to the World. The tune is slow and melancholy and the words have more of a pleading, begging tone than a praising one. But I love it. It's one of my favorites. The second (or sometimes 3rd) verse, "Come thou Day spring come and cheer our hearts by thine advent here. Dispel the gloomy clouds of night and deaths dark shadows bring to light" always brings me to tears and speaks peace to my heart.

Veni Emmanuel, written originally in Latin in the 12th century, has Catholic origins.
Chanted antiphonally until the 16th century,I imagine monks in black robes at vespers calling out to one another over ancient marble in arched cathedrals. The music developed over the centuries and has is origins in France. The words weren't translated into English until the early 1800's.
Across the ages, the pleading call for a Savior is not diminished. The need for Veni Emmanuel is the same today as it was 900 years ago and His presence and promise are just as real.

Veni Emmanuel
Veni, veni Emmanuel;
Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
Nascetur pro te, Israel!

Veni, veni, O Oriens;
Solare nos adveniens,
Noctis depelle nebulas,
Dirasque noctis tenebras.

Veni, Clavis Davidica!
Regna reclude caelica;
Fac iter tutum superum,
Et claude vias inferum.

Veni, veni Adonai!
Qui populo in Sinai,
Legem dedisti vertice,
In maiestate gloriae.

English translation...
O Come O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

forever unpublished



the way she uses words pierces my heart

she's cool beyond cool

a true artist

not a wanna be

writer poet artist musician

why does reading or seeing or hearing someone else's genius make me want to melt into the background even as I scream to be heard

mediocrity sinks even further until it's not simply average anymore but bordering on failure

the gap between originality and ordinary widens

why can't i just be grateful for talent and genius like hers

why does is cause jealousy

especially since i know her unique style is born out of great pain

it should make me rejoice that God gives so much and she chooses to bless others so richly through it

on some level it does

but envy sets in and wonder why God didn't give any of that to me

i know my own downfalls

i know my laziness

i know my lack of ambition

i know my satisfaction with good enough

i know the times i say no to Him... or wait... or question Him

my life is blessing upon blessing upon blessing

i grew up in grace

surrounded by love...forgiveness...mercy

does growing up in blessing keep you from true genius

is true greatness only born through profound hardship

would i be willing to endure the pain to produce true originality

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


This post has been tucked safely away as a draft since I wrote it in August. I write a lot of things I never intend to publish; sometimes because they're too raw or too negative or sound complain-y. That's what I assumed about this post. Every once in a while since August, I'd click on it and think about editing it for publishing or deleting it. Rereading it, I've never changed it until today. Today it seems like I'm supposed to post it. I don't really want to because it makes me sound needy and depressed and like a big fat baby. But, setting pride aside (not easily or happily), I'm putting it our there for the world (well, not really the world since only about 6 of you ever read this-but you get what I mean) to see as a reminder that perception is not always reality and in hopes that somehow it points someone to the True Rest Giver.

exhausted. i feel like i say that word 1000 times a day in my head. i wake up in the morning exhausted. i go to bed at night exhausted. going to work, driving kids around, doing house work, working at my shop, dealing with friends and clients and school and family...all exhausting. there's no rest. even my thoughts are exhausting. frustrated at the jealousy, envy, and bitterness in my own heart and mind, even the inside part of me is exhausted. come to me...that's what you say. and yet, i do and there's precious little rest for my soul when i do come. there's guilt and anxiety and more that i see that's not right in my life. but rest? no. it's elusive and fleeting like the colors of the rainbow. i don't want to be angry. i don't want to be jealous. i don't want to covet. i don't want to envy. yet every time i turn around those feelings are right there threatening to consume me. i see how they keep me from entering in and taking part. i feel so lonely. yet i know i am not alone. despite feeling you or not, you are there...the True Rest Giver. and although what i experience day to day doesn't seem restful, i know you're here. so i keep getting up and loving and working and schlepping kids and praying and dealing. and somehow, in all those things and the fact that i do them, there's a Rest that's beyond me.

**photo: not surprisingly, "The Blah" by Jack Kent, pictured above, was one of my favorites as a little girl...kinda gives you a scary insight into my mind...**

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Straight up

In the wee hours while the house sleeps and before the busyness of the day begins, I pray, all alone in the quiet. Not wanting to rush the morning, I keep the lights low and open the drapes. Staring out the french doors, the bare trees against the stark gray sky look forlorn and beautiful. Apple cinnamon tea warming my insides, something in the view strikes me as odd.
That tree across the street, it's not right. You can't see it when dressed in green, but the anomaly is obvious now. That big branch must have been lopped off at some point. The rest of the tree reaches out, organic and branchy, and looks natural. But right there, off the main trunk, the growth pattern changes.
Those branches, where the tree was cut, they're growing straight up.
Not out in twisted little y's like the rest of the tree.
Up from the place of the cut, like fingers reaching to the sky, the branches break form.
They're out of place. They don't look right. They mar the symmetry of the tree.
The branch was cut off but still alive. Greedy for sunlight, it grew straight up. It didn't know any better. It didn't know that to fit in, it should grow out- not up.
The branch shot vertically through the other branches, ignoring the pattern of the tree, searching for the life giving sun.
As I continue studying the tree, I see beauty in the oddity...

beauty in the desperation for light...
beauty in the reckless abandon of form...
Oh, to be that desperate; willing to risk conformity, willing to look out of place, willing to be the oddity to find light and life, willing to go from a place of pain, from a place pruning and shoot straight through all the crap to find the Light.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
~the prophet Isaiah

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
~the prophet Isaiah

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. ~Paul to the Romans

Hear me, LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
~King David

**photos: I'd give my right arm (well, maybe that's extreme, ok, my wisdom teeth) for a decent you can tell, I took them both with our crappy camera. You can kinda see the's more obvious in real life. Also, because the morning I wrote this the batteries in the said crappy camera were dead, I took the pics the next day and the sky was no longer stark & gray. But hopefully you get the idea.**

Sunday, November 21, 2010


As I washed the dishes I thought of her. Her dishwasher ran well (unlike mine) yet she always did some dishes by hand. Truth be told that always irritated me.
She always washed. She liked washing.
I always dried. It was my job.
I remember what her hands looked like under the running water, smoothing over a pot to make sure she'd gotten all the gunk off. I remember the conversations shared over the steamy suds, white cotton towels and assorted pots & pans. Sometimes it was her childhood or child rearing years. Sometimes it was about her marriage. Sometimes about the lean years when dad's construction business struggled. It's one of the only times we talked...really talked. I don't know if that's because it was easier to discuss real things --not just the weather or day to day activities, but real stuff-- while you could look out the window and be busy or simply because it's the only time we had alone.
Today, as I talked to her softly and stroked her hair, I thought of those times we washed dishes together.
Only a few years ago we stood over the sink, watching the squirrel at the bird feeder and sharing life.
Only a few years ago she still made Sunday dinner and wrote birthday cards and tied quilts and went to Ladies Aid at church on Tuesdays.
Only a few years ago she talked about her life with dad and her boys.
Those days fade into memory as she sleeps in her chair covered with her soft velvety blanket.
Tears stained my cheeks as I remembered her hands...her busy, able hands that now hang limp. She can't read or walk or talk or enter in and lately she can't even stay awake. Her vacant, tired eyes barely stayed open long enough to focus when I whispered her name. She's not physically gone. But she--who she was--what made her her--is no longer... and we miss her.
Usually lasting at least an hour, today our visit only lasted a few minutes.
The kids cried. Brad looked sad. And I, well, I couldn't help stroking her gray hair and rubbing her arm and whispering to her and missing our times at the sink.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Showing up

Always unannounced, he shows up.

Dirty face, grubby clothes, great big smile, kind heart and oh, so troubled life.

One day it's his car. Another his failing marriage. Can he borrow 10 bucks? Can we store some of his stuff?

The next time it's issues with his mom or dad... or boss... or friend... or the law.

It may be different, but it's always something. Impulsive, rash and prone to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he's often in trouble.

He knows we don't approve of most of his choices. I've been straight with him--blunt in fact--about his issues and how life's not about money or women or simply being happy.

Sometimes I wonder why he keeps showing up.

We don't lend him money. Sometimes we're able to answer his requests but not always. We've set clear boundaries.

But we do love him and try to keep showing kindness as we speak Truth.

Sometimes it's tempting to want to fix him and his problems. But he's not a project. We can't save him.

Sometimes I want to see some improvement or little sign that something we say or do makes a difference. But truthfully, I don't see any.

Sometimes I want to cut him loose.

Sometimes I want to give him a swift kick.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by his hurt and confusion.

Sometimes I don't want to love him.

But then I remember. Loving him, showing him grace, isn't an option, it's a necessity and a command.

So we keep loving. And he keeps showing up.

Showing up in exactly the same way I'm forever showing up at Mercy's door...dirty faced and shabbily dressed looking for Love, Grace, Healing and Mercy.

And time after time after time, He opens the door and loves me right where I am.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Break Time

Looking back over my last posts (most of my posts, actually) I see a strong melancholy thread. It's who I am, I can't deny it. But today instead of indulging my depressing inner workings, I'll write about my outer ones.

Wait...that doesn't sound right.

Anyway, I'll depart from routine and share a recipe with you...

For those of you who only know me in the cyber-world, you wouldn't know that I cook and bake for a living. I own a small (minuscule) coffee/bake shop in my tiny town. I'm not a chef or gourmet. I have no formal training. I'm a humble, down home cook of comfort least, to me they're comfort foods. I use real, fresh ingredients, butter being my favorite. Living by the "all things in moderation" maxim, I don't shy away from calorie laden, high fat foods. Cakes and breads are my specialty.

At home, when I have time, or when I'm stressed or bored or want to escape or relax, I bake. May sound weird to some of you, I know. But that's how I deal with life, I make food.

So, this morning, with the time change, I was gifted an extra hour to my day and I spent it baking. Yea me.

French silk pie is one of my favorites. But I've only made it once at home--years ago--before my 600watt Kitchen Aid stand mixer--before all my baking experience--before the myriad of recipes available on the web--before gray hairs and failing vision--before I realized that you don't HAVE to temper the eggs. I vaguely remember that the result of all my intensive labor was a tasty, but sadly average pie. Putting away hopes of a delicious homemade version, I've spent the last 15 years eating French Silk pie brought to me by my lovely mother from a Baker's Square in Minneapolis.

Well, for whatever reason, the desperate need for French Silk pie overtook me yesterday and I determined to give it another try. I purchased all the necessary ingredients, did an extensive* recipe search and set out at 7 a.m. this morning to fulfill my deepest chocolate longings.

I mentioned earlier that cakes and breads were my speciality. Not pie crusts. I can make a nice double pie crust, but single crusts are another animal altogether. They shrink. A lot. So, the crust doesn't look that great, but chocolate can cover a multitude of sins and the taste more than made up for the lack of beauty.

The recipe's not hard, but if you don't own a good stand mixer, don't even attempt it--your arm will go limp, numb and feel like falling off halfway into the process. I'd also suggest that, unless you're adept at pie crusts, you use a good store bought one. I'm a purist, and yet, next time, I might buy a crust.

After much research (*well actually--after I discounted all the recipes that used pudding, gelatin and/or cool whip {insert wretching sound and disgusted look on my face here}--only about 5 recipes remained) this is my combination of what looked like the best ingredients and methods combined. And just a little warning, I'm not always very I didn't measure the vanilla or sugar with measuring utensils, I guesstimated.

French Silk Pie:

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 oz unsweetened chocolate (melted and slightly cooled)
4 eggs
whipped cream for garnish

*Using the paddle, cream butter and sugar for a looooong time scraping the bowl long time I mean ten+ minutes.

*While you're waiting for the butter to cream and sugar to not be so grainy, separate the eggs and whip the egg whites to soft peaks (I used a little cream of tartar). Set aside.

*On stand mixer, switch to the whisk attachment and add vanilla; continue whipping the butter & sugar.

*Add egg yolks one at a time and beat about 3 minutes after each egg is added.

*Finally, fold in the egg whites until all the streaks are gone.

*Pour into a prepared crust and refrigerate a few hours.

*Garnish with REAL whipping cream (please, I beg you not to ruin this pie by using cool whip or some other disgusting fake food--buy whipping cream, whip it with a few tablespoons powdered sugar--it won't take that much extra time) and chocolate curls (vegetable peeler & a hershey's bar) ENJOY!!!!!


**eggs and butter must be room temperature--not softened in the microwave or warmed in hot water, but left out for several hours or overnight so they're room temp.

**This is the part where I have to warn you about eating raw eggs. But honestly, if you're not pregnant, under 5 or over 80 I believe you can safely eat this dessert. If you're still scared--well what can I say--don't make it.

**I looked for recipes with more chocolate, because, let's face it, we all need more chocolate...but our family likes a more "milk chocolate" taste so 2 oz is perfect. If you like dark chocolate you could increase it to 3 oz but I wouldn't go over that--it'll throw off the consistency.

I hope you've enjoyed our little break from my oft'times tiring musings. Enjoy the recipe and let me know if you try it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


People chase all sorts of things...
Rare moments of clarity tell me I chase...
meaningful human contact
We're all so needy.
Desperate to fill up the voids in our hearts and lives.
God's right there.
Yet without His love through His people,
to those hurting, it's as if He doesn't exist.
You are needed today.

**reading Ecclesiastes this morning paired with Romans 12**

*photo: Will Ferrell, Stranger than Fiction

Friday, October 29, 2010


**this is a repost from last's how I'm feeling today...***

For what seems like the millionth time, I click "favorites" and check Facebook or this blog or my email. I just checked a few minutes ago...I'm sure nothing has changed...yet, I need to look again.

What am I doing....what am I looking for?
In all these various checks, what am I longing for?
Friendship? I have friends.
Information? I have Google.
Inspiration? I have the Bible, art, nature, music, & books.
God? I have God.
Since I was 7, I've "had" God or more significantly He's had me.
But knowing God, having God, doesn't mean the end of longing.
In fact, I think it means the beginning of longing...true, deep, passionate, yearning for more of the One True God.
And the more He gives, the more I realize I lack and the more I want. Frustration sets in as it seems like God gets more & more elusive the closer I get to Him...but that's another topic...

So, back to my incessant need for meaningful human contact, even if it's via electronics... I realized this morning as I kept checking my various modes of communication, that I am searching for God: searching for Him, longing for His love and His words to me, through His people.

Last week I read Romans 12...verses 4 & 5 say Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We are the body of Christ.
We are the hands and feet of Christ-a familiar enough phrase- but have you stopped to think of what you're saying and what that means?
It means you're desperately needed. Not just by the world, but by other Christians (Galatians 6:9).

A few weeks ago, a lovely couple visited our church. She's an occasional customer of mine, so of course I visited with her & her husband after the service. They loved it. And I know her well enough to know, they genuinely loved it. They felt at ease & at home with our informality and the spirit of community we have.
But they didn't come back.
Talking with a mutual friend, I realized that they (the couple) saw the need for community when they were hurting; when they needed something. But they didn't see how valuable they were to someone else's community. When have I done that? Underestimated what God wanted me to be to a certain group of people? Underestimated His presence in me and how it ministered to others?
We think we're being humble by deflecting praise or denying our worth, but we're actually being selfish...withholding something we're made to give.
"...we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
You, dear reader, are needed.
There are things God has planned for you. Jeremiah 29:11, a beautiful passage, is quoted so often: "For I know the plans I have for you , declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future."
But how does He prosper you and give you hope and help you realize your future? Many times, it's through others. Yes, He wants to bless you and prosper you, but He wants to bless and minister and provide for someone else also and through you.
Someone in your life needs what you have to offer.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Lounging on couches, talking over glasses of wine my friends & I discussed our cravings.
One friend who's lost a lot of weight recently shared that she really didn't miss some food she'd cut back on, but she craved exercise now.
Another runner friend said that her recent half marathon left her craving more races.
I could not relate to either of them.

Rethinking the conversation later got me wondering about my own cravings.
What would it feel like to have good cravings?
To be desperate for exercise or leafy green veggies or flossing your teeth or more self-sacrifice?
I don't crave anything good for me.
I crave chocolate and coffee and time alone and distractions...I never crave exercise or healthy food or sacrifice.
I wish I did.
At my parents home a few weeks ago, I was in the holy of holies (that's my dad's study) and saw his Bible on the desk amidst writings of ancient theologians, countless Biblical commentaries and stacks of note pads filled with his thoughts, studies and reflections. Glancing through the old, worn, but cared for Bible, I noticed that every page had notes.
Every page.
And not scribbled messy notes and questions like the ones in my Bible; but neatly written, logically arranged notes on texts or specific words. As I leafed through it, the precise handwriting in the margins on each page amazed me. This Bible has not only been read cover to cover, but studied cover to cover.
How you can account for writings on every page? Yes, he's been a Christ-follower for a long time. Yes, he's a scholarly man who loves to study.
But, to me, nothing but craving-an intense longing for more- could explain notes on every page.
So, can cravings be cultivated?
That seems counter intuitive to me.
A craving is something on a gut level--there's primal need involved--involuntary. So, can you learn to need something?
I suppose if you look at the world of addictions, people do it all the time.
If I eat more leafy veggies will I want more leafy veggies?
If I floss more will I want/need to floss more?
Is that a craving then or simply something that becomes a habit?
Or can a habit turn into a craving?
Ultimately, do we control cravings?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sun Soaked Skies

Every fall I miss my home state of Michigan. The vibrant oranges, reds, and fluorescent yellows of the trees, the crisp air and even crispier apples, the rolling hills, and the wild untamed forests speak home to me.
Over the last 19 years of life here, I've grown to respect and admire Iowa's own beauty during harvest. It's kinda like the people who live here: modest, solid, quietly displaying beauty, never needing to be the center of attention.
Harvest time this year is like none I've ever seen.
Absolutely gorgeous.
Not the changing, bright colors like Michigan.
No, here on the plains the trees turned brown and died like every other year. But the spectrum of native grasses sport as many shades of colors as the trees back home.
And the beauty in the skies is breathtaking.
In the morning, the golden sun rises over newly shorn fields highlighting the gentle rolls of the earth.
At dusk, as the dirt from the farmer's combines kick up, the display of color it causes on the horizon is amazing; reds, yellows, oranges, purples and pinks beyond imagination change each moment for a new picture to revel in and soak up.
And all day long, all month skies.
Clear, blue, cloudless skies day after day after beautiful day.
I just want to breathe it all in and tuck it away to treasure for the cold months looming in the near future.
Each day presents another vivid picture of the splendor of this world and the timeless majesty of it's Creator.
And even though all this beauty is born out of death and the end of a growing season and signals the coming of a long winter ahead, I hear Hope whispering to my heart and mind.

**photo: Just 20 miles south east of our home the landscape is vastly different. With beauty tucked around every bend in the gravel road, it's one of my favorite places...**

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Near Death Experience.

My grandpa died when I was 4. He was big and tall and had a black patch over one eye. A stroke patient before his 55th birthday (and long before I was even born), he walked with a cane and couldn't speak. Needless to say, as a little girl,he scared me. But laying there in that hospital bed with his wife and daughters gathered around, he didn't garner my fear but my pity.
I remember sitting quietly on my mom's lap until Grandma whispered through tears "He's gone". My mom and aunts each kissed his cheek and stood in the institutional gray room silently weeping. I remember a few moments later (or what seemed like a few moments, but I guess in reality, it must have been a much longer time) watching the hearse pull out onto the street and off to the funeral home. After that, I have no memories...not of a funeral or memorial service or of what we did after he died. I only remember the death.
Flash forward a few years to our house on East End Street. The police showed up at our door. I don't remember the time or day or the weather, but I remember the panic in both my parents eyes. Dad grabbed his bag and left. My mom, tears in her eyes broke into fervent prayer. Suicide, they said. So young, they said. So much life left, they said. Her kids were close to my age and now they were motherless.
Finishing up my freshman year in college, I came home for a few days to regroup before starting my summer job. As soon as I walked in the door, my mom told me she wasn't doing well. Moments later, the phone rang. My best friend's voice sounded tired and sad and all she said was "she's gone". We got off the phone and I walked the few blocks to her house. Her aunt was cleaning. Everything was quiet and strange and even the house seemed to know she was gone. We hugged. We cried. Then we talked about everything and nothing. The funeral, the first one I'd attend as an "adult" upset me. Why were people eating and smiling and talking? Didn't they know she was gone? Didn't they get it? So young. So much life left.

Since then I've been near death many times. Family members. Close friends. Strangers. Tragedy. Cancer. Accidents. Natural causes. Old. Young. Too young. Too fast. Too slow. At some point, it doesn't matter how or when death comes, just that it comes.

Does it make it easier when there's the hope and certainty of heaven? The obvious answer is yes.
But missing the person is still just as real.

The grief feels just as raw.

The reality of day to day without them is just as empty.

The aching arms of a mother longing to feel the weight of her baby.

The quiet, cold loneliness of a spouse-less bed.

The missed conversations with a dear sister.

The advice never to be given by a wise mother.
The dreary prospect of another meal eaten alone.

On the phone with a widower last night, the reality and intensity of his pain was obvious. Does he believe his sweetheart is in heaven? Yes. Does he have the hope of seeing her again? Absolutely. But even after time, his suffering lingers and his lonely heart hurts and longs for her.
I love a line from the Sara Groves song What Do I Know?: "Death can be so inconvenient. You try to live and love and it comes and interrupts."


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Between

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

On the cusp of dawn, leaving the night behind, but not quite daybreak.
The in between.
Mysterious. Dark and light mingled and entwined and, for a few brief moments, inseparable.
Wide awake during the in between, praying, thinking, I strangely had a flashback to college.
Religion 101. Junior year--yes I realize that is late in a college career to take a general course and the registrar and prof were not happy with me, but I was and still am of the opinion that the point of a liberal arts education is to have a diverse, balanced course of study all the way through school...ok, sorry about that...stepping off my soap box now and back to the blog... Religion 101...junior...oh yeah...
Willis P. De Boer. Close to retirement, lanky with what I thought at the time were unusually long appendages (now I know that it's just part of being Dutch) and a slight brogue, he gestured with those far reaching fingers and said we were the in "the already but the not yet".
The already but the not yet.
The in between.
Like seeing a mountain range far off we recognize the majesty and vastness, but don't really begin to understand their scope until we travel into them. The view is different from the foothills to the passes to the mountain tops to the high plateaus. Discovery is around every corner and rarely looks the way we expected it to.
When Jesus came to earth, He ushered in God's Eternal Kingdom. It's already here. But as is painfully obvious, the fulfillment of that Kingdom seems forever in the future with, at times, little evidence of its existence. For the past 2000 years we, the human race, have been journeying through the mountains of the already but the not yet.
Oh, we're in awe of the beauty and rugged delicacy. But we're fickle people and even the majesty of the mountains becomes mundane and all we see are the rocks and foot falls. Sometimes we're fearful that any misstep could lead to disaster. Not always aware that what we're in is so much bigger than us, we continue on.
I know I've felt lost in the the in between. Caught in the middle...wanting desperately to get through or at least to a peak so I can get a bigger view and maybe see how much farther there is to go. Caught. Between night and day.
But then there are those moments, when beauty or art or music or communion with loved ones, or acts of kindness and generosity, or the realization of sacrifice transcends what we can grasp and is something felt not thought, and we get a glimpse of the already but the not yet. Signs of the coming dawn.
Life in the in between.

***forgive mixing metaphors and being a bit melodramatic...remember I wrote it in the wee hours and after reading Bronte.***

Monday, September 13, 2010


In my early 20's I naively thought I was almost there. I could see it and touch it and ignorantly (and arrogantly) assumed I'd reach it by 30. Delusions of spiritual grandeur filled my head. God was near; I was a tested, approved workman for Jesus and I was not ashamed. I knew I needed to grow some, but certainly I'd arrive within a decade.

In my 30's I came to the realization that I hadn't reached it but someday I would. It was out there--waiting for me. Struggling through ups and downs of marriage and child rearing, dealing with moves and job changes and all the stuff of life, I felt like a veteran. Surely a few more "life lessons" and I'd be there. There: at that magical place of faith where communion with God is easy, vibrant, natural and dieing to oneself is the norm. Sure, there would still be things to work on, but God would show me and we'd correct them and we'd keep moving ever forward.

Now, as I approach my 44th birthday (still 5 months away but looming in the near future) I don't think it's possible. I don't think we ever arrive. I think we're forever in the process of arriving...and by that I mean sometimes we're standing still.

In this life of faith, we never arrive. There's never a point of maturity in any area that won't still need growth. And not just tweaking, but full out growth. We don't/can't master anything. 10 years ago, I might have conceded to this idea but I know I would have assumed that if you don't "arrive" or at least keep moving forward at a steady, fast-ish pace, it's your fault.

But is it? Are we to blame for slow growth, stand-stills, detours and delays? Certainly, yes, at times we're the ones who inhibit growth. But always? I'm tempted to say that God holds us back knowing what we can handle and when we can handle it so He allows for growth to be slow or even at times non-existent. But I'm not sure that's true either.

Perhaps the fact that we'll never arrive is simply because we have an unlimited capacity for growth.

Who knows. All I know is that just when I think I'm pulling into the station I realize I'm actually pulling out.

Monday, September 6, 2010


The whole concert surprised me. I knew I would know a lot of the songs, but I didn't expect the band to perform so well or be so real and authentic. They pulled me in and held me with their music, lyrics and stories. They focused on God and faith in a genuine, loving way without all the cliches and syrupy crap that's often found at Christian concerts.
But their encore, that was the real surprise.
The familiar tune rang out and my heart leaped. With the building haunt of the keyboard, the repeating, echoing electric guitar and the explosion of bass my excitement grew. Then the words. Words that struck me years ago, the first time I heard them, were calling me back and reminding me once again of more. I didn't expect to hear it here. I didn't expect to ever hear it live. And yet, there I stood, surrounded by the starry night and 100,000 other souls at a Christian music festival listening to a distinctly Christian Contemporary band (MercyMe) yet hearing one of my favorite secular songs by my all time favorite group.
Taken back, surprised, it took me a moment to process it all but as soon as I did I jumped to my feet and worshipped.
One more call to my heart. One more reminder that this world is not my home.

Where The Streets Have No Name
I wanna run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

I want to feel, sunlight on my face
I see the dust cloud disappear
Without a trace
I want to take shelter
From the poison rain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We're still building, then burning down love
Burning down love, and when I go there
I go there with you, it's all I can do

The city's a flood and our love turns to rust
We're beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled in dust
I'll show you a place
High on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We're still building, then burning down love
Burning down love, and when I go there
I go there with you, it's all I can do


Monday, August 30, 2010


when the silent world awaits the first glimmers of sunlight, I sense it.
when I hear a baby giggle or see her precious face-filling smile, it's near enough to touch.
when my heart is almost breaking but doesn't, I'm reminded of it.
when the music takes over my senses and I'm transported by the sound, it's right there.
when hurt, death and destruction loom heavy on the horizon but redemption and grace rain down, I know it's real.
when the full moon fills the night sky, I look for it.
when grieving parents hold onto hope, it becomes an actuality.
when surrounded by loved ones sharing life, I know it's value.
when beauty enraptures me, I'm reminded that I can't hold it like a greedy child with candy.
when Truth drowns out all the other voices in my life, I long for it.
when I'm caught up in the tangible, surrounded by the pressures of the present, I hears it's echos calling me away...
calling me to lose this world to gain it...

It's so close I can touch it, yet so elusive it feels impossible.
It's sings a song deep in my being and reminds me that this world is not my home.

"What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again." Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

Monday, August 23, 2010

Off the Hook

**"Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss Eyre; remorse is the poison of life."
"Repentance is said to be its cure, sir."
"It is not its cure. Reformation may be its cure..."

I think about stuff a lot.

Because of some interesting circumstances, I've been thinking about remorse and regret.

Are remorse and regret the same thing?
Regret, for me, speaks to a missed opportunity because of a choice (either bad or benign) that I made.
Remorse seems deeper. Remorse means I made a hurtful decision and either I or someone else had to pay painful consequences.
Regret carries with it the idea of lost hopes and dreams.
Remorse carries the burden of bad choices.
Remorse makes you cringe every time you think of your prior actions.
Even if everyone around you lets you off the hook, remorse clings like the pungent smell of skunk in your heart and soul.
So is repentance remorse's cure, as Bronte so eloquently writes in Jane Eyre, or reformation?
Is repenting--turning from what caused the remorse--enough? Or does is require reforming--changing---replacing?
Simply feeling bad and saying you're sorry doesn't seem to be enough.
Remorse, to me, seems somehow hidden in the depths and tied more to how we view ourselves and our actions than to how others perceive us.
If that's the case, if it's true that it's more about how we see our own hearts, then not only is repentance and reformation necessary, but grace.
Repentance and reformation alone seem like penance.
Don't we want absolution? Don't we seek forgiveness?
Don't we need Grace?
I do.

Remorse seems to require both forgiveness from others and some inner forgiveness from ourselves to take place. But why is that so hard?
I let other people off the hook but rarely give myself a break even when I know that both people and God have let it go.
Thank God that regardless of whether I feel better or forgiven or off the hook, because of His grace, I know I am.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Paul to the Romans

**Excerpt between Jane and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1st Day

Nine months pregnant and two other little ones in tow, I didn't cry when he went off to Kindergarten. He was ready and excited and it was right.

When he climbed on the bus for the first day of high school, I didn't cry. But, I did worry...30 minutes away, not knowing anyone, all new school, teachers...Would he find friends? Would these years be happy or painful?

Would he make it?

Snapping pictures left and right as he made his way down the isle in his long navy robe at graduation, I didn't cry. So proud, so happy for him, and so filled with gratitude that my fears on the first day of high school were unfounded, I smiled and laughed but I did not cry.

He's not going that far away.

He'll be in the same town where he went to high school.

He knows a few people.

He's confident and fun and I have no doubt he'll be fine.

But home will feel so empty.

He's funny and quirky and kind.
He leads with quiet strength and conviction.

His "collection" of energy drink cans and numerous pairs of old Asics will be left behind as he moves ahead.

I know he'll come home again to visit...but it will never be the same.

It's good it won't be the same...his independence is something Brad & I have worked towards and prayed for and hopefully he's prepared.

But the change feels profound and hurts.

And tomorrow, after we've unloaded all his clothes, shoes, computer, fridge, and books and said one more good-bye...I just might cry.

Dear Josh,
‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

love, Dad & Mom
Numbers 6:24-26 (New Living Translation)