Thursday, December 9, 2010


After months of self-inflicted pressure to have a relatable 'encounter with Jesus' on a daily basis, Karen has given up this blog.  The stress was just too great.  Karen has started a new blog that will encompass various aspects of her life including, but not limited to, her Christian walk, her cooking foibles, her daily life (the entertaining parts, anyway), and her family.  She feels far less pressure to perform in this new venue, and therefore finds it much more enjoyable.  She hopes to see you there.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Have you asked?

When was the last time you asked for help?

I mean, like seriously begged Jesus for mercy.

Maybe it's my lack of time-management skills.  Or, truthfully, my lack of time-awareness skills.  Or maybe it's my clumsiness, my ability to put my foot in my mouth, my ability to bungle, well, anything.  Whatever the reason, I find myself earnestly, honestly, frequently begging Jesus for mercy.  And you know what?

He never, ever fails to be merciful.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lessons in Luke

I'm still making my way through Luke.  I have been derailed by an exceptional study of David (Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed), and various and sundry other life events. 

Last night, at the tail end of a family-wide stomach bug, I finished reading my sister's Christmas gift (In the Company of Others, by Jan Karon).  Holy cow, can that woman write.

I want to have dinner with her.

One question I will ask, after telling her that I love her, that I aspire to be like her, that her sweet, unapologetic witness of Christ's love in the form of Father Tim touches me deeply, that I've read the Mitford series through every winter for four years, is this: "Why, Jan Karon, did you write this entire book with the dialogue in single quotes?  Is it an Irish thing?  Did it save ink?  Was it a first-run mistake, and as such should I keep this book for fifty years and then retire on the proceeds of its sale?"

If it's a first-run mistake, Sissy, you're getting a sweater for Christmas.

So what does this have to do with Luke, you ask?

Just this.  Throughout the book (In the Company of Others, not Luke), Father Tim began his day (earlier than I ever will) by reading the Daily Office (which I had to look up and understand to be daily scripture readings and prayers for the Episcopal church) and then praying for others.

It stayed with me.

I noticed this morning that I was procrastinating spending time with God.  I do this often.  Sometimes I procrastinate so long that it's bedtime.  I finally sat down with my bible and told God that I don't know how to spend time with Him.  Then I remembered Father Tim.  I closed my eyes and asked God to spend time with me.  Then I opened and read Luke Chapter 8, the parable of the sower.

I read it.  I read it again.  How does this apply to me?

I don't think my heart is "by the wayside."  I don't think it's the rock.  I do think I have been, or am in danger of being "choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life."  

What I want, more than anything, is to be the "good ground," to "hear the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What I learned in Sunday School

My husband and I serve as substitute Sunday School teachers for the youth at our church.  Prior to Sunday, my experience was limited to subbing for teachers' assistants.  I have happily accepted the role of backer-upper and encourager-of-dialogue and other, mostly easy things.  I dig teenagers.

Sunday, however, I was the Boss.  The Teach.  The Clueless One in Charge.  I have some experience with substitute teaching in public schools, so I'm familiar with the dynamic.  I was not afraid.  A wee bit sweaty, perhaps, but not afraid.  I arrived early and set up my props (an apple, a pocket knife, a squirt bottle of water) and chatted with the regular teacher's assistant, who assured me that this would be a small class, no more than four or five kids.

And then the kids came.  All fifteen of them.  They were predominantly female and ranged from excessively chatty to crossed-armed stony silent.  I began the lesson, which was from John 12:

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 
The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 

Here is what I learned:
After we made a big whiteboard list of things they enjoy doing, ways they spend their time, the students were supposed to draw a line through the things they would give up if God asked them to.  There was a ton of discussion--girls willing to give up video games (which they didn't play) and boys willing to give up candy (which they didn't eat), but no one, not one child was willing to give up FRIENDS or MUSIC or FOOD.  One person was willing to give up Facebook, but then changed her mind.

We talked through the meaning of hating your life, because I remember being young and confused on this topic.  Did God want me to hate the life He gave me?  I thought I was supposed to appreciate it, live it fully, accept it as it was.  I guess I was a slow kid.  These kids totally got it.  They knew that hating their lives was a comparative description: love versus hate.  Jesus versus not physical life, as in breathing breaths in and out, but Jesus versus the things of this world, the things on our list.  They intuitively understood that hating their lives means loving Jesus so much that they are willing to give up every comfort for Him.

Even though, according to the list, they are not willing to do that.

Instead of disturbing, I found this strangely comforting.  I loved their honesty.  I'm pretty sure I didn't have that, or know myself so well, at their ages.  I'm pretty sure I would have spit out whatever answer I thought proper and then carried on with loving my life.

The thing is this:  God was not finished with me when I was a dim, selfish, life-loving teenager.  He is not finished with me now (I'll withhold appropriate adjectives).  God is not through with the students I taught on Sunday, not by a long shot.  We're all running this race, getting closer to Jesus with every step.  My prayer is simply that they continue the journey.  May God keeps us each on His path.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My God is Holy

I saw Glee the other night.  We don't subscribe to cable, but I tracked it down on Hulu.  I knew I had no business watching it.  So sure was the feeling that it is not in keeping with who I desire to be that I hid down in the basement and watched it on the laptop.  I didn't want the kids to know!

What I saw, and did not turn off, did not turn away from, but watched in much the same way a person watches a train wreck--despair and tragedy, mangled limbs and carnage--from beginning to end, was the single most blatant anti-Christian propaganda I have ever witnessed.  It spewed hate towards my God and my beliefs, and therefore towards me.  It was offensive in the way it reduced Jesus to an image on a grilled cheese sandwich, equating Him to a genie in a bottle, Someone who might just grant a sincere request by a teenage boy to touch his girlfriend's breasts.

Make no mistake, I was offended; aghast, even, at what has become acceptable in our society.  Christians truly are the only people group in America that can be mocked openly and without consequence.  It dawned on me that we are hated.  Surely, there are those who call themselves followers of Christ who spew hate.  Biblical Christianity is not hateful.  I want to say that.  I want it to be heard, but that's not the thing that has stayed with me over the last several days.  The thing that touched me, that keeps running through my mind is this:

The God of the Bible, my God, is holy.  He will not be mocked.  My heart grieves for these people, for I believe that one day they will stand in front of the One they have mocked and be called to explain themselves.

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." 
 Galatians 6:7

Friday, October 1, 2010

People, Vol. 3

In early September I met a man at Chik-fil-A.

I had taken three boys school-clothes shopping and we stopped at the restaurant to refuel and assess our progress.  The place was packed.  I remember that I had to direct one particular child two or even three times to take the tray from the table to the garbage, knowing full well that his sudden desire to wash his hands (of all things) was nothing more than a lame attempt at getting out of a little work.  My re-direction was loud, seeing as how he headed to the bathroom and then continued heading toward the bathroom until he realized that a) I was serious, and b) trouble was about to rain down on his little world.

As I exhaled slowly and walked through the restaurant, probably rolling my eyes, a lone diner stopped me with an outstretched hand and asked politely if I was a single mom.  When I tipped my head sideways, he quickly explained that as he had admired my chile\d-rearing style it struck him that I was either a single mom or a military wife.

I am who I am, so I pulled up a chair.  We chatted for just a few minutes (although if you're under the age of 18, you would have said it was hours), and I learned that he had recently placed his wife of 40-some-odd years in a nursing home because her Alzheimer's had advanced to the point where he could no longer care for her at home.  It took all of ten seconds to realize that this man was guilt-wracked, and lonely.

I did what any of my mother's daughters would do and invited him to our Labor Day barbecue, where he ate home-cooked food, chatted with my lovely neighbors, and took home enough leftovers to get him through several solitary meals, each of which he reported joyfully via email.

School started the day after that barbecue and life got nutty.  Just today we finally managed to meet for lunch, back at Chik-fil-A.  He treated, and I noticed that he didn't have to give the employee his order. I also noticed that the refill guy didn't ask what he'd been drinking..

I only had an hour, but during that time I employed the Talk Less, Listen More rule (no small feat for me)It was genius--we all need to be heard--and I'm thrilled to say that I am the proud recipient of his love story.  I'm also a little bit in awe (okay, so I'm a lot in awe) of how God will use me when I'm willing to be used. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

People, Vol. 2

I met my new-ish friend Gail this morning for coffee.  We met at 7:45 and she had explicit instructions to kick me out Panera's door at 9:00.  Today is a writing day.

We chatted like two women with a deadline--100 miles an hour, no time for breathing---and at precisely 9:11 (ahem) a sweet gentleman placed his hand on my shoulder and asked,

Have you two solved all the problems of the world?

We paused, startled, and laughed.

Yes!  Aren't you glad we're here to do just that?

As he ambled back to his table, his wife smiled and gave a patient wave, as though his behavior was nothing new.  He settled into his seat and explained it all by saying,

We've been married sixty years, you know!

Okay, seriously.  He had me at Hello, if you know what I mean.  Sixty years?  Who stays married for sixty years?  Heck, I've been married for eight, and there are days when sixty feels like looking down a long, winding road, water vapor rising in the distance and obscuring the view, making it wavering and unreal and seemingly impossible to grasp.

Gail and I pulled over our chairs, taking his revelation as the invitation it was meant to be.  We asked how they did it, how they do it, and were met with an event that took place early in their marriage, back when the kids were still little:  They had words.  A kitchen door was slammed.  A cupboard door was slammed simultaneously, causing the sugar bowl to fall off the counter and onto the floor.  The waste was was did it, she said.  That, and the long, long stretch of time during which sugar crystals were found on the floor, no matter how many times it was swept.  They learned then to talk it out.  Fighting was a waste.

We chatted some more and were given more tidbits:

If you're irritated, stay away from each other for a bit (her).
Learn to ask the other what they think, and don't hold onto your position too tightly.  Unless it's on the topic of ice cream (him).

They were sweet, oh so sweet, but something was burning in my heart.  Something just didn't add up.  Something I know to be true wasn't addressed as part of the equation, so I asked.

Tell me, are you people of faith?

There was the teeniest moment of silence, before she answered thoughtfully,

Oh, yes.  There is no other way.  When you're walking next to the Lord, really, with the Lord inside of you, it's easy to put yourself aside.  That's what you have to do.

He nodded in agreement.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Our investments, like your own, have gone down the crapper.  (Can you say crapper on a Jesus blog?)

I don't worry about it too much (the investments), because I'm really not convinced I'll be here to need that money. 

(I'll save that topic for another day.)

There are investments I've been thinking more about lately, and those are of the eternal variety.  We are warned not to store up our treasures on earth, but rather to:

..lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matt. 6:20)

We're also not supposed to brag about it:

But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (Matt 6:3)

Which is why I was hesitant to write about the things God has been growing in meThis morning a girlfriend blogged about something similar.  Reading her blog, it was easy to see that she wasn't bragging at all; she was encouraging.

Therefore: consider the above a very long preamble to me, a) relating what God is doing is my life (the very purpose of this blog) and, b) encouraging you to think about eternal investments.

I was driving to a middle school soccer game and listening to a local Christian radio station.  They were doing some kind of telethon for Food for the Poor, an international relief ministry that has been established in Haiti for more than 25 years.  Because of the infrastructure it has in place in that country, Food for the Poor is able to do tremendous amounts of good for the Haitian people.  One of their projects is to build cinder-block homes for those made homeless by the earthquake.  I have to admit that I haven't given Haiti much thought since news coverage of the earthquake died down.  Nevertheless, the story of a homeless widowed mother of five receiving her very own home--complete with windows and a locking door--brought me instantly to the kind of tears that make it dangerous to drive. 

Sometimes I'm a dummy, but I know when God is moving me. 

My husband, ever the planner, has been asking me for weeks to tell him what I want for my upcoming 40th birthday.  I haven't answered, because I don't know.  I spent some time dreaming of--knowing I can milk this one--a new road bike, an expensive piece of furniture, a fun trip.  I couldn't decide, couldn't nail down one single thing from my ever-growing list of wants

When I heard that story, though.  I knew.  For my 40th birthday, I want to give someone a house.

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.  Matt. 25:40

Monday, September 27, 2010

You made the team!

I've started this great bible study at my church.  I would tell you the title, but it's all the way across the room and I can't get up.  No, really.  If I get up, something other than the bible study will catch my eye and I'll tend to that (quickly, with the idea that then it will be done, and I can get back to you with one less thing to do) in whatever room it needs tending, where something else will catch my eye and before you know it I'll be living one of those If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books instead of writing this post.


The study, whatever it's called, is really good.  It's about the life of David, and (so far) uses the biblical texts both about his anointing by Samuel and the New Testament texts about our own anointing by the Holy Spirit as proof  that we have been called by God to great things just as David had been called, and especially that God has made available to us (at the moment of our salvation) all the tools (ie power) of the Holy Spirit that were made available to David.  (I Peter 1:3, I John 2:27)

So we're talking this through, this idea of being chosen(!) and anointed(!!) in just the way that David was.  The leader asked us how living with this knowledge should change our perspectives, attitudes and behaviors.  As I sat and listened to the group members work through what was a very new idea to most of us, something came to me.  I shared it with the group, and I'd like to share it with you.

My son recently, against all odds, made the middle school soccer team.  Over the last two weeks, I've watched how belonging to that team has affected and changed my notorious goofball.  I have noticed that:

He is proud and excited to be a member of the team.
He loves to tell people he is on the team.
He takes the work he does, both in school and at practice, very seriously, because it affects his standing on the team.
For years I have despaired that he would ever dress in anything but basketball shorts and t-shirts, and now, without prompting, he has begun to wear khaki shorts and collared shirts to school.

The analogy to my personal life is apparent:

I should be proud (not prideful) of my anointing.
I should desire to tell people about Who has anointed me.
I should take the work I do very seriously, as it is a reflection on Him who anointed me.
Part of my personal anointing is to write.  In light of that, I should "dress" like a writer; be diligent in my writing, write in a way that honors the one Who has called me to do it.

So.  Now it's your turn.  How should being chosen(!) and (anointed!!) affect your daily life?

Friday, September 24, 2010

People, Vol. 1

I struggle with what to write here.  This isn't the place to blog about my kids and the dangerous levels of male hygiene products that threaten to asphyxiate me every morning.  I don't want to blog in a way that sounds all pious and perfect, because that would be a lie.  Initially, I wanted to write about my journey, my growth, my very personal relationship with Jesus, but oh! the pressure!  It was paralyzing, and so mostly, I wrote nothing.

I think that I've finally figured it out, this blog.

I think that I will write about the people I encounter.  I do seem to find some really interesting people.  It happens often enough to be reliable blog fodder, so I'll give it a try.  Here goes:

Last night, as I grudgingly took the dog for her nightly walk (the very same dog who refuses to use the backyard for its intended dog-purpose) I came across an exceedingly tall young man talking on a cell phone and walking a pretty chow-mix.  We've lived in this neighborhood for two years and I feel as though I have a pretty good handle on the evening dog-walkers, but this kid was new.  As we reigned in our leashes he snapped his phone closed and said, "Good evening, ma'am!" 

Always a sucker for a "ma'am," I responded in kind and then became the happy beneficiary of his very good news.  He told me, excitement ringing in his voice, that the phone call delivered the news that he's been accepted into the Navy.  He told me about boot camp in Chicago in December, and about his hopes and dreams for the future.  I listened and smiled and told him I was sure he was headed for a grand adventure.  I promised him my prayers.  When we parted ways I was nudged to make good on my promise, and I did.

Because I don't believe in chance meetings, I realize that I have been honored with the chance to meet and pray for this young man.  I have some ideas about why God chooses to work through the prayers of His people, who knows if they're correct.  Regardless, my life experience has taught me that indeed He does, and I'm thrilled for this most recent privilege.

Friday, September 10, 2010

THIS day

I was dreading this day.  The chores required of me are one step below drudgery.  They make drudgery look fun.  They cause drudgery to look at them and laugh hysterically.  My plan was to plow through this day, and come out alive on the other side.

Then I read a girlfriend's status on Facebook that said:

I intend to enjoy THIS day!

And it changed everything for me.

Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The first thing about Luke

I've been chewing on this one since I last wrote.  I'm going to write this very informally, because I have this great fear of coming off like I'm trying to be some great theologian, sounding like an idiot, and representing the Author of my faith poorly.

Let me rephrase:  I am not a theologian.  I am a girl on a journey.  I love Jesus.  I like to write.

So...many, many things in the book of Luke have grabbed my attention.  One of the things that has stuck with me is from Luke's rendering of the Lord's Prayer in chapter 11.  Actually, it came from the footnote concerning this passage.  The footnote states the importance of acknowledging God's holiness before we come to him with our requests.  You know, hallowed be thy Name...

Do I do that?  No, my prayers are most always on-the-run petitions, one-phrase pleas for help, and/or self-serving requests.  For example, every single time I go to the base hospital (where we receive our medical care, and where the parking situation is dire) I am running late and beg God, without preamble, for a parking spot.*

Clearly, I am not one of those people who thinks her God should not be bothered with little things.

Sometimes (well, actually with an embarrassing frequency), God wakes me in the night to tend to the conversation I've neglected with Him during the course of the day.  These are usually prayers for others, and I pray them sleepily, incoherently, obediently until I drop back off to sleep.

I'm working on this.  Actively attempting to give God even a wee bit of the credit to which He is entitled before I start off on my me, me, me monologue.  I need to work on that, too, but as they say, that's a topic for another post.

*The fact that I always, always find a good parking spot is evidence to me that while my prayer life is imperfect, my God is not.  I will say this again and again: If He loves me this much, He surely loves you, too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Luke who?

When I'm in a good Bible-reading phase I make a habit of reading daily from both Old and New Testament.  The Psalms and Isaiah are my go-to OT stops, and I lean heavily on John in the NT.  I kind of can't get enough of John. 

Last week I started feeling guilty for my neglect of the other OT authors.  Specifically, I felt guilty about Luke.  Poor Luke, I thought.  I can't even remember the last sermon I heard preached out of Luke.  Maybe it's because he was a doctor, and with his doctor's brain wrote just the facts, facts, facts.  He's kind of dry, poor neglected Luke.

I'm sure he would be relieved to know that right then and there, I made a commitment to read his book straight through.

This week, I'll be telling you (lucky you!) all about it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cross-cultural torture and witnessing

A Peruvian girlfriend introduced me to a form of middle eastern torture called threading.  While the pain is significant, the results are pretty amazing and I am hereby resigned to subjecting myself to this ritual once a month.

A few years back, on or around my 30th birthday, I decided that I wanted people to know that I am a Christian.  Even if I met them just once.  Ideally, this would be accomplished through my actions and my great love for them.  Usually, though, I found a simple phrase or word that kind of set the bar, so to speak.

In the case of the Pakistani woman who performs my threading (whom I have come to love), and also in the case of the woman who runs the shop (whom I have come to love), I just can't seem to spit it out.  Even when they talk about Allah, even when they promise to pray for me.  I usually think "Ack!" and then nothing comes out of my mouth.  For once in my ever-loving life, I am rendered speechless.

I honestly don't know why.  It could be that it takes all my energy to understand what they are saying.  It could be that I am in their place of business and have no desire to offend.  It could be that I'm a wimp.  It's quite possibly all of the above.

Today, before I got out of the car, I did two things.  I braced myself for the pain to come, and I asked Jesus to help me.

And the oddest thing happened.  After my threading, I went up to the front to pay.  Instead of the usual howareyourkidhowisyourhusbandcanyoubelievethisweather small talk which has become the norm for us, the dear sweet woman (whose name sounds kind of like Ezekiel to me), began telling me some very sad and very personal details about her life.  I'm sure my eyes were bugging, what with trying my darnedest to understand her and wondering what exactly on earth was going on, it was all I could do to nod and murmur and take her henna-ed hand in mine as the tears coursed down her face.

I was really at a loss.  I had no idea why she chose to share this with me.  I had no earthly idea how to help.

But of course I had no earthly idea how to help, but I could offer to pray for her.  She smiled sadly and nodded vigorously as she squeezed my hand and said, "Yes. Please pray for me."

And so I will. 

The funny thing is that all along I had imagined myself taking some grand, monumental stand for my faith there in that little shop.  I imagined proclaiming Jesus' name with my head held high and my shoulders back, come what may.  In this case, the deal wasn't to proclaim my faith.  It was to live it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Return to blogging

I haven't been over here for so long that I was shocked to see a blue background on the page.  When did I do that

This is a difficult medium for me; for some reason the idea, the weight and responsibility of 'blogging for Jesus' just shuts me right up.  If you know me, you know that's no easy feat.  I haven't figured out how to resolve this little issue, but I do want to write here, so I'm going to make an attempt at diligence.  For the record: also no easy feat.

So.  I got up early and went to my favorite Spinning class, which effectively burns off all the guilt of yesterday's dining choices and comes with the added bonus of an endorphin overload.  In trying to make the most of that burst of motivation, I came home, started a pot of coffee, walked the dog, showered and sat right down to read my Bible.  I've been reading in Matthew, but today I opened to Isaiah (from my Top 10 People I Want to Hang Out with in Heaven list) and read Chapter 44.

I was cruising along, pencil in hand, underlining things that caught my eye.  This is what I marked:

(from verse 6) I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
(from verse 8) Is there a God besides Me?  Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.

And then I read all the way down to the second half of verse 22, where God knocked my socks off.

Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

Sometimes it happens this way, where some little thing in God's Word just grabs me, shakes me, and moves me from my fuzzy slippered, comfortable place of apathy and into the very throne room.  I heard my God  beseeching me to come back to Him.  I felt the urgency of His love for me.  I felt His desire to have me walk with Him, to set aside all the fleeting things that consume my time and return to Him.

It moved me straight to tears, I'm telling you.  Who am I?  Who am I that the King of kings would desire my attention?  It blows the mind, doesn't it?

One other thing struck me.  The verse does not say, "Return to me, and I will redeem you."

Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

So here's your take-away people:  If God redeemed me, He most certainly has done the same for you.  Please accept that gift now if you never have before.  If He is beseeching me, then He most certainly is beseeching you.  If He loves me, without a doubt He loves you, too.  Don't wait.  Return to Him.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

I'm here this week, learning about the dream God has placed in my heart.  There is so much to take in, so much to process, so much to change about my writing worldview that at times I am absolutely overwhelmed.

More than overwhelmed, though, I am packed chock-full of JOY.  I understand in a new way why God created community.  Every day I am amazed to find myself surrounded by people who share my faith in God, my hopes and dreams, my insecurities and frustrations.  I am not alone!  I have been encouraged by people whose words seem divinely timed.  I have been taught by people who want to see me succeed.  I have opened my heart to people who are at different places on the path I hope to follow, and I am able to draw from the experiences and wisdom of those ahead of me as well as cheer on those coming up behind.

What a great picture of the Church!  This is why we are to gather together.  This is why we are called to both teach and learn.  This is how we provide each other with all the fuel necessary to run the race.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Heb. 10:25

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ten reasons I love Ree Drummond

10. She talks openly about her sweaty armpits.

9. Even though she has sweaty armpits, she still looks cool as a cucumber in photos taken with (slightly) deranged fans.

8. Crash Hot Potatoes.  I just might be the ambassador for Crash Hot Potatoes.  If I haven't yet spread the good news in your direction, take this hint and make them tonight.  If (by divine intervention--trust me, this is what it will take), you manage to have some leftovers, use them for the crust in a quiche like my brilliant friend Charlotte.

7. Not only does she talk openly about sweaty armpits, but she actually wore two different earrings to the book signing last night.  I would so totally do that, but no way could I rock them like she did.

6. Caramelized Onion and Prosciutto Pizza.  I make Ree's Basic Pizza Crust on Sundays (and sometimes on Wednesdays, too) and use it for whichever night(s) of the week becomes Pizza Night.  For the longest time I would make the kids a pepperoni or sausage or some other kid-friendly pie and save the good stuff for the grownups, but last week one of them tried a piece when I wasn't looking and that ruse has officially come to an end.  I keep meaning to try the bbq chicken pizza, but alas, I cannot tear myself away from that sweet-and-salty wonder.  The Potato-Leek Pizza in the cookbook might just be able to do it, though.  Seriously, potato and leek pizza?  Seriously.

5. She is gracious.  This is one of my most longed-for character traits.  Because it is so far out of my reach, I recognize it immediately in others.  She was gracious to both Charlotte and to me, which, even though we were giddy and nervous and a little bit star-struck, might not have been too difficult seeing how we were the 10th and 11th people in line.  However, when Charlotte and I went back to Borders (after enjoying hot-and-sour soup and lettuce wraps at PF Changs), there was the Pioneer Woman, being just as gracious to numbers 758 and 759, and with the line of autograph-seekers still winding throughout the store.  We immediately felt terrible that we hadn't brought her lettuce wraps.  Her new BFF really should have.  Thankfully, she is gracious enough to forgive me.

4. Mac and Cheese.  She graciously put this recipe in her cookbook just so I could, 1. Buy it (the cookbook) yesterday morning, 2. Make it (the mac and cheese) yesterday afternoon, and 3. Guiltlessly leave my family for the evening to go hang out with her.  I specifically asked them to leave me some.  They did not, but all said it was a Do Over, which is code for Make it Again!

3. She wants to take me to the Lodge and fatten me up.  She didn't say it in so many words, but there it was, written all over her face.  Soon I'll be posting from Oklahoma and packing on the pounds.  Maybe I'll actually get to prepare food with something other than a dullish steak knife while I'm there.

2. Chicken Tikka Masala, by Pastor Ryan.  Dude.  There are no words.  Except maybe these:  I want to go to your church and eat at your house afterward.  I'll even do the dishes.

1. I love the way she protects her family.  I love that while we know there are four gorgeous children who live and learn and work and play and EAT on a working ranch somewhere in the state of Oklahoma, we do not know their names.  This, more than sweaty armpits and mismatched earrings, more than photos of calves' nuts and her husband's derriere, informs me of the content of her character.  I wouldn't accept anything less in my new BFF.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sometimes, something happens during the course of my day the bears the marks of worthy blog fodder. Sometimes I sit down and tell you about these things, sometimes I get caught up in life and let them slip by, unrecorded.

Sometimes, though, I sit here and stare at a blank publishing tool, wondering what on earth I might tell you that would encourage, enlighten, entertain or otherwise make a mark on your life. Many times I have no idea what that is.

Like now.

I guess this is life. Sometimes it is altogether uninspiring. Sometimes it is so bad that altogether uninspiring would be an improvement. Those are the days I find it impossible to write. Today, though, is just a dreary, rainy day, one with too long a (procrastinated) task list and too little opportunity for fun.

So maybe that's the point. We are meant to "run the race," even on days when the race course is uphill. On days when it's muddy, or the terrain is rocky. On days when the view is boring or bleak or just a repetition of yesterday's boring or bleak view. On days where the run is really nothing more than placing one foot in front of the other and making forward progress of some sort.

Consider Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

JOY was set before Jesus. If there was JOY at the end of His race (and you know ours will never, ever compare to His), surely there is JOY at the end of ours.

Surely there is joy during the race, but sometimes I need to focus on the end, on tearing through that ribbon, on claiming my prize. Some days I have to look past the current, earthly landscape and focus on the coming glory.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Daily Bible

So I've been reading my husband's daily bible. I'm now up to January 25, which tells you something (but not everything) about me.

The thing I've noticed this week is that the Old Testament is coming ALIVE for me. Seriously, I have never experienced this before. I used to look out over the dry, dusty deserts of Moses and his stubborn people and yawn. Now though, I find myself reading straight through two or three days worth of Old Testament goodness, thinking the stories are every bit as exciting as the last novel I stayed up way too late for (Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes), and dreaming about the next installment like I dream about my morning cup 'o joe.

So what is the difference between now and the previous decades of my bible-reading life? Maybe this: when I do sit down to read, I've been asking God to spend some time with me, to teach me something, to plant His word in my heart and let it make a difference in me. Maybe the difference is getting excited about His Word, His Wondrous Works, His Person. I don't know for sure, but it's a cool enough phenomenon that I'm going to encourage you to ask Him for a little help in this area. Try it, and let me know what happens.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Taking a lesson from Father Tim

I subbed an easy, breezy half day today--three periods, two of which with the help of another teacher and an aide. I began my day with Father Tim's prayer, "Lord, make me a blessing to someone today," because in regard to subbing it is always wise to take yourself out of the equation.

Subbing is a funny thing. There is nothing quite like a situation in which the person in charge has no clue. Fortunately, I've long mastered the art of faking it, so that's what I do.

The periods with the extra teacher and aide were because the students were part of an inclusion class, where a portion of their population requires extra help. I had some time on my hands during those classes, and as I stood around trying not to look completely extraneous, I noticed a few things.

I noticed that the children (8th graders) were not as well kempt as students in other classes I have taught.
I noticed that very few of them could look me, or each other, in the eye.
I noticed that many of them had nervous habits of some sort.
I noticed one girl in a wheelchair and two boys with their desks permanently placed facing the side wall of the classroom. I noticed that no teacher spoke to them, and that they didn't do any work. I noticed that nobody seemed to care.

I wondered if they felt segregated. They sure looked that way. It was pretty easy for me to imagine these as marginalized children, those who, according to Webster, are in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power.

My heart was sad for them, and it occurred to me that these were the people Jesus sought out while on this earth. He hung out with the poor, the wicked, the hopeless sinners, the sick, the downtrodden. The marginalized.

It was then that I realized I wasn't extraneous. I walked around the classroom and prayed for them. I asked the God Who loves them to cover them with His Son's blood, to save their souls and redeem their lives. I asked for peace, and joy, and success in their endeavors. I asked that they would know Love.

I believe God answers my prayers. I do! I probably won't know just how until I get to Heaven, but man, won't it be great? And what a great lesson--Make me a blessing to someone today.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rockin' the gear.

I've been thinking of this all week:

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Let me get it straight. God created Adam and Eve. He loved them. He actually came down to the garden to hang out with them. (How cool is that?) They disobeyed Him, brazenly, directly, tragically. They actually knew God and still did the one thing He told them not to do. I can't imagine that, although I know in my heart of hearts that if the human race had made it successfully, sinlessly from the dawn of time to 1970, I would have been the one to bring Paradise crashing down.

So I'm imagining how I feel when someone I created (you know) blatantly disobeys me. I'm mad. Depending on the circumstance, I could also be hurt. Bewildered. Indignant. Offended. Aggrieved.

I'm sure not about to go out of my way for this person, who, if he has any sense, will stay out of my line of vision until I've cooled down.

So what does God do?

God, Who created the animals on the sixth day, declared them very good. With my limited imagination I imagine that He, with His infinite capacity for love, loved them all even more than I love Molly. I love Molly a lot.

So what does God do?

He takes his very good creation, and sacrifices it to make clothing for brazenly, directly, tragically sinful man.

Do you know this Love? Grab hold of it today and live like you've been sacrificed for. If you know this Love, that sacrifice has clothed you in righteousness.

I'm rockin' the gear, people. Join me!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I wonder if there is proper blog etiquette for returning after a prolonged absence.

I have no idea, so I'll just jump right in and hope you'll forget that I started this with the intent of writing about my experiences with God, with hopes of honoring Him with my writing. Nothing like putting a little pressure on one's self, eh? Nothing like determining to write (repeatedly) something profound, only to end up with a Gibraltar-sized writer's block. Nothing like making it all about me...

Heh. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's making it all about me.

I just sat here for ten (okay, maybe five) minutes, trying to figure out how to tell you this without making it about me. Can't.Doit.

So. Here is what I am currently learning, courtesy of Beth Moore's Believing God study.

I am learning that it's time to act like I am the daughter of the Creator of the Universe. It's time to grasp hold of and BELIEVE that God has great things for me.

(Please don't think for a second that I'm talking about wealth or material possessions or having hair like Mrs. Osteen. I'm talking about fulfilling the destiny God set out for me before He created the foundations of the earth)

This verse grabbed me (written in regard to the Hebrews wandering aimlessly, pathetically through the desert):

So we see that they were not able to enter [the Promised Land], because of their unbelief. Heb 3:19

It struck me that unbelief is vastly different than disbelief. I don't dis-believe in God, but I do often suffer unbelief in regard to His plans for me, the abilities He has given me, the things He has for me to do with this life. This unbelief is paralyzing. I think I need to say that again. This unbelief is paralyzing. Do you know this feeling?

If you do, please join me. Today I am asking God, like the man in the book of Mark,

"Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Only my request looks more like this:


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lessons with Molly

We took Molly, the sweetest dog on earth, to the park today. Poor Molly's family hasn't yet fenced in the backyard, so she's at the mercy of impatient, selfish humans for all of her outdoor time.

The park we like has a huge, fenced-in baseball field where Miss Molly can run free. There is one opening in the fence, and with the five of us paying our very best attention she usually only escapes once. Our routine is to walk around the park until she's taken care of her doggie business, because I'm a mother and I can't stop thinking that one day soon that field will be full of little boys and girls, and...yuck.

The temp was 32 degrees and there was a brisk wind coming off the nearby river when we arrived, appropriately bundled and bearing lacrosse gear, soccer ball and my new Christmas camera. While the boys worked off pent-up energy and testosterone with some made-up sport involving both soccer ball and lacrosse sticks (which, honestly, deteriorated to all-out Smear the Queer within 15 minutes), I played around with the action setting on the camera and kept an eye on my girl.

As you can see, she had a great time.

So what is my point, you ask?

My point is this. I noticed that Molly, although appearing to have the time of her life, would periodically stop at the faaaar back outfield fence, where she would stare longingly at the wide world beyond. It was pathetic, really.

The second or third time she did this it occurred to me how much alike we are.

We have warm and cozy homes, full of loving people and good things to eat. We periodically have wild adventures that would blow the minds of even the most intrepid among you. We lack, really, nothing.

And yet. We are not content. We always want more. It's pathetic, really.

I would like to resolve to be content, as if resolving were doing, and then it would be done. What I will do instead is practice contentment, because practice makes perfect. Right? I'd like you to come along for the ride. I'm asking God to give me brilliant and creative ideas on this topic, which I will then share with you. Maybe you would do the same, and we could practice together.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Heavy Heart

It is with a heavy heart that I write of another marriage in peril. I have a physical ache for this family, torn apart by infidelity. It seems that I hear some version of this story so often that Another One Bites the Dust is playing on a continuous loop in my head. Only in my version the devil is singing it, and he is joyful.

Let me use my aching heart to encourage you to guard your marriage with all due vigilance. Yes, marriage is a place to relax, to let down your guard with the one you love, to be yourself. By all means, let down that guard for your spouse. Please, please don't let it down for the enemy. Don't think for a tiny second that he doesn't have his eye on your marriage.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I Peter 5:8 (NKJ)

Set up safeguards: My husband and I have committed to never be alone in the presence of a member of the opposite sex.

Draw boundaries that cannot be crossed: Never speak ill of your spouse to another. It's such an acceptable thing in our society to criticize our spouses, even jokingly, to our friends. Determine not to do this.

Believe and act on the fact that you are your spouse's biggest fan. If you're not, ask God for ways to become that fan.

Cultivate your relationship: Spend time alone together. Go on dates. Talk. Listen.

Above all: Pray together.