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