Sunday, January 30, 2011

God is good...All the time

This has been a hard week. I have had the privilege of walking with many different friends through unexpected struggles in their lives. Encountering sudden loss and grief is never easy and has weighed heavy on my heart this week. I struggle with how to respond as a good friend, knowing that usually all I can offer is prayers and love, but not feeling that it is enough of a response.

So I pray, I talk with my friends, and I try to rest in God's goodness for them (and I offer them food!).

But yesterday, I just had a heavy heart. For most of the day.

In the early evening, I found myself at Meijers all by myself to do our bi-weekly grocery shopping. And it was going really well. It seemed like everything on my list was on sale. Seriously. I jokingly asked God if he went before me and put sale tags on everything that I needed to buy that week.

And then I was in the spice aisle trying to figure out which Paprika to bu (Why did the Organic Paprika look so dull? Was it a different variety?)  when I was approached by a tall, dark stranger. He had a rectangular face and a long forehead. He had really white skin and very dark hair and buggy eyes. He must have been in his late teens or early 20's. I figured he was going to ask me some ingredient question (that seems to happen a bit).

Instead, he said, looking straight into my eyes, "Excuse me. I just have this pressing on my heart to tell you that the Lord loves you."

I was floored. Shocked. Incredibly surprised. Flabbergasted. Remarkably blessed.

I thanked him deeply. He had no clue that he just made my day, actually my entire week.

I wished him a great day and we both went on our way shopping. I encountered him a couple other times in other rows (as it often happens at Meijers) and we gave each other warm smiles and kind greetings.

Now, the skeptic in me would try to write this off as a really weird guy who had some radical agenda and was trying to save my soul. But I observed him and his friend and I didn't see them talking to anyone else.

And further, I have learned how to be open to God's leading in my life. And God wanted me to know something. He used this unusual and unexpected way to drill it home to me. He LOVES me. The Lord, Yaweh, Creator God, Healer, Protector, All-Sufficient One. This God, he loves me.

So now I don't really care what his agenda was or how it came to be that buggy-eyed guy actually spoke to me. But I am confident that God used that moment to wrap his arms around me and encourage me, to help me to press on and keep doing what I am doing.

Thanks buggy-eyed guy. Thanks for listening to God's voice. Thanks for sharing it with me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yum, food.

I am always curious about how people eat: what they have for meals and snacks, how they nourish themselves with food.

And now that I live in the food alternate universe, I find that it is bloggers who open their kitchens and show me what's cooking. And then they give me their recipes, which I change and make even tastier.

And in the past couple days I have had such great success that I wanted to share it with the whole world.

Last night, I ate a pot pie, with a buttery, flaky crust on the top and bottom. It was tasty, had a thick gravy, and was completely Gluten (and mostly dairy) free. And it was delicious!

The recipe called for simple ingredients: meat, veggies, sauce. I improved it by using some Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, sweet potatoes and green beans.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I actually had two helpings and didn't leave any bites on my plate. Astonishing.

The only problem is that I didn't take a picture. Maybe next time.

Lunch was great: oatmeal pancakes made with leftover oatmeal that were moist on the outside and a bit crunchy on the outside.

And tonight's menu is equally spectacular: veggie frittata, salad, and a fresh loaf of bread.

Remember, there is always room at the table.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's just me

Maybe there is no one else who feels this way. . .

But this weekend, Eric and I traveled to the other side of the state for his Winter work party. It's a pretty fancy shin-dig with pretty decent food (they cooked a fresh GF meal for me!), live entertainment, an open bar, and fantastic door prizes.

This year's party was 1920's themed. On the invitation, they requested 1920's costumes or formal attire.

Now i really love a chance to get dressed up. It's fun to put on fancy clothes and have a night with my husband away from the kids. To have adult conversations and adult food. But as you might imagine, in my life there isn't much need for fancy clothes, so I don't have too many formal dresses just sitting around at my disposal. Shocking, I know.

And my daughter and I were just at a museum exhibition on the late Princess Diana--where they showcased some of her beautiful (and in some cases, especially dated) formal wear.

It made me long to have something new and beautiful to wear to this party. You know, a great little black dress that was flirty and fun and sexy and beautiful. Or a shocking red one or a beautiful blue one. Two nights ago, I spent way too much time searching on-line, hoping to find the perfect dress in my size for $20 or less. I didn't find it.

So when searching in my closet, I had two appropriate dresses, neither of which are especially fancy or rich-looking. I choose the one I loved the most: a simple, vintage 1920's black silk dress I have had since before I had kids. We purchased it off ebay for a murder mystery we were part of. So, I grabbed that dress, my only pair of black heels, and 1920's felt hat. I honestly hoped that I wouldn't look completely out of place amidst the fanciness I was expecting.

Fast forward: leave the kids with Y, drive across the state, step into the elevator to head down to the party. We share the elevator with two couples who are all dressed in period costumes. The women are wearing flapper dresses with long pearls and feathers in their hair. I am beginning to feel stupid in my not-very-fancy dress. We get to the party and see many women wearing versions of the same things: black, white, red flapper dresses, lots of pearls and feathers. And lots of other beautiful dresses on beautiful women. But then I start getting comments on my dress and my hat, how they are obviously vintage & authentic, how I am the only one who could pull off the hat, how great Eric and I look together.

Later as I thought more about it, the dress was a perfect choice. Because then I was who I am to all these people I wanted to put a show on to, because I was real, I was authentic, too. Because I was simply who I am and that felt good; without a fancy costume or feathers or a sexy little black dress.

Even at my age, I find that it is still way too easy to fall into the "what-if-they-don't-like-me" trap or trying to be who others want me to be, instead of who God has created me to be.

And last night, I found great reward in being just who I am.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Reflecting on 2010

Our new year is already 3 days old! Wow, time sure flies. I know that I am a person who will forget what happened yesterday unless I purposefully try to recall and remember it. Even more so with the year that just passed.

So I am a fan of purposeful reflection.

Last night, along with my small group, I engaged in some reflection on the events, moments, and things of 2010. It was wonderful, not only to spend some time thinking on last year, but also to hear how others saw their year and each of us were changed. We worked from a list of 20 guiding questions, but only got through a few. Below I am going to post some of the best questions and my responses. Maybe you should take some time to think of the answers in your own life. Knowing where we have been and what we have experienced helps us to know who we are right now.

What was the biggest think you learned this past year?
    I learned about food. More than I ever wanted to know: what is in it, how it affects me, what God intended. New ways to think about food, what it means to be nourished and contented, how to shop, prepare, plan, and cook. And there is a lot more I still am working on learning.

What was the best way you used your time this past year?
    Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the time that I spend with my kids is the best way I spend my time. Teaching, talking, playing, learning together, instructing. And even though sometimes I may complain (a bit) I wouldn't give it away or trade it for anything!
What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
   Facebook (that was an easy answer),

In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
    This one is hard for me to answer, but I would say that learning transparency and honesty in relationships, especially in my small group was a growing for me.

Pick three words to describe 2010.
   Practicing Contentment
What were the best books you read this year?
     I have read so many (many of which I have forgotten). But the ones that I haven't forgotten:
    Cutting for Stone (Verghese), The Odyssey (Homer, transl. Fagles) and the Old Testament (seriously, I love the OT. And I'm reading it in The Message translation. Fantastic.)

What was the single best thing that happened this past year?    This was a hard one. But if I had to choose only one,  it was hearing each of my kids saying ," I love you, Jesus."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Steady Days

Today has been one of those days.

The kids are tired. We are tired. And when we get tired, we each respond in slightly different ways.

The kids get extra hyper and loud and physical with each other.

I get extra sensitive and reactionary.

As you might imagine, the combination of these two reactions can be a bit explosive.

And tonight it was. I was frustrated beyond all, felt I had no patience in reserve, so I retreated. . .to waste some time on the Internet. And in my skimming I glanced over one of my favorite sites (and a new favorite) which encourage me: not to throw in the towel, to be intentional in my mothering, to be open the fullest so I can love to the fullest, to reflect God's love throughout my home.

Deep Breath.

After I put the kids to bed (a few minutes early, for both their sakes and mine), I was working in my new craft room (yeah, you heard me right!) and I took a minute to look over our family scrapbook. And I remembered that we, Eric and I, we chose this family life. And we choose it again and again and again. We choose the togetherness and the full contact of our lives with each other, we choose to engage in the messy, difficult, sometimes hilarious parts of being a family.

In my childhood, I didn't experience the full range of my parent's emotions at being a parent (huh, maybe I blocked that a bit). So I am surprised by how frustrated I can be, but also by the depth of my love.

And so today was rough. Tonight I will sip a warm mug of chai, sort through more pictures, and perhaps even watch a favorite movie.

And tomorrow morning, I will choose it all again.