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Chaos, Social Justice, and Facing Fear in order to Seek God's Face

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.  Isaiah 26:3 A warning in advance-in...

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It’s time when it’s time…


He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

It’s time when it’s time…
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians  6:9 (ESV)

The very act of gardening is often an act of faith - faith that the seeds we plant will reward us with their beauty and their gifts.

I am beyond “WHY.”  I still try to solve problems, but am no longer obsessed with needing to understand why big things happen the way they do.  (we’re talking life-altering events, not things like why the washing machine doesn’t work which I can usually figure out.) 

For years, I have tried to successfully nurture live orchids.  It seemed like a cool hobby.  My mom is expert at raising them; they are all over her home. I like what it might say about me, being able to coax exotic, pollen-free, long lasting blooms that don’t irritate anyone in my allergy-prone home, with just Spanish moss and water.  “You grow orchids?  Cool” (an imagined conversation, I guess…) My mother-in-law not only keeps the orchids we buy her as gifts, but hers bloom regularly.  (yeah, seems everyone’s thumbs are green but mine.)

At this time in my life when so much has changed, I’m thankful that among my lessons learned are patience, and permission I have given myself to release things truly beyond my control. So, the last time we bought my MIL an orchid, (honestly, I bought one for myself and we needed a hostess gift, so I took one for the team) I went back later and got one for myself.  They die, either from benign neglect or too much love.  Well, it’s time when it’s time.  The arrival of Jesus, long foretold, happened when in due time.  Completely irrelevant were anyone’s concerns about scheduling, planning, considerations, etc. (all human follies, not of God). It was time when it was time.  Guess what? My orchid’s going to bloom.


Oh, it’s early in the process.  I only know the plant is going to bloom because I’ve seen it before, just haven’t been able to take any credit for it.  I am learning patience, and this is my reward.  I’ll take it, knowing this is just the first of many such victories I intend to claim.  I’ve even got a picture, but you have to look carefully, or, like so much that happens quietly in life, you might miss it. (See that tiny green shoot curling out from underneath the leaves on the left?)

It’s time when it’s time, and to honor that lesson, I’ve started a process that will culminate in Christmas and Kwanzaa gifts, but, as you will see in Today’s Feast, takes time and patience to get right.  I’m mastering time and patience, and rather than being frustrated, I’m learning true calm in the process.  I am growing, again.  And in life, you grow or die.  I choose NOT to be like my old orchids, so I’m getting with the program.  Grow, baby, grow.  Steep, baby, steep.  Let the Universe have its way, and for God’s sake, let Him take His Time.  Because thankfully, completely irrelevant are anyone’s concerns about scheduling, planning, considerations, etc. (all human follies, not of God). And that’s all the evidence I need today to be reminded that God is Good.

Today’s feast: Rosemary Infused Vodka

Back story~since our first year of marriage when our holiday gift giving aspirations far outpaced our budget, I have made gifts for closest friends and family.  I never abandoned the tradition, and I usually wait for inspiration to create something unique and wonderful, often based upon some recipe or skill I want to master (past successes have included orange marmalade, home churned honey butter, marinara sauce, jewelry).  This year, mom’s rosemary bush (ancient looking, massive, and intoxicatingly fragrant) inspired me to make infused vodka.  I’m planning to create a couple signature cocktails that I’ll write tags and give in decorative bottles. (I'm thinking a Cran-Rosemary Vodka-tini or a Rosemary Tonic??)

Organic or home grown rosemary (to ensure no pesticides or contaminants)
Quality Vodka (I’m not a big drinker, but a friend swears by Costco’s Kirkland brand)

Rinse and dry the rosemary.  put as many rosemary springs as you can fit into an empty container and fill with vodka.  (Because the Kirkland bottles had space in them, I added about 6-7 long stems including the woody ends.  Set aside in a dark place for at least 2 days.

Beginning day 3, assuming you can wait that long, taste.  Continue to “steep” until you have the desired infusion strength. 
Strain all of the herbs out of the vodka so it’s nice and clear.  Package beautifully (perhaps with a fresh stem of rosemary attached) to give as gifts. 

Making it sexy….add any or all of the following to be infused:
·         Citrus fruits (perhaps blood orange?)
  • ·        Citrus fruits (perhaps blood orange?)
  • ·         Vanilla beans
  • ·         Chili Peppers
  • ·         Pulverized ginger
  • ·         Lavender

For additional ideas and tips, click on http://www.wikihow.com/Infuse-Vodka-with-Flavor

Monday, November 28, 2011

What are you waiting for???


He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

What are you waiting for???
 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
Luke 2:25-31(KJV)

Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas



There’s always a good reason to wait, right? We wait to grow up; wait until we’re better educated; better invested; until things makes sense.  We can always find an excuse.  Who are we listening to when we decide? “Them??” Who are “they,” anyway?? Do we ever wait, listening for the wisdom of anybody more important than “they?”

My family could very well have waited for a better time to drive 17 hours each way to visit my mother and 92 year-old bed-ridden grandmother this Thanksgiving.  I could catalog several legitimate reasons not to make the trip, and in fact I did detail a few for my husband when he suggested the trip several weeks ago.  For all my logic, practicality, being selfless and responsible, my husband said merely it’s not that we should or shouldn’t go, it’s that we must.  I need to listen to whom he hears…he was right.  We needed to be there, and I cannot articulate how thankful I am to God and my husband that our family AND the dog made the trip. 

My niece flew in from Texas to provide respite care to Mom, who is primary caregiver to Granny, recently bed-ridden.  Mom herself is not well, and Granny’s not an easy patient.  My niece arrived like a whirlwind, taking absolute control of mommy’s home, making all the difference.  When we arrived, mommy was calm, rested, even happy, not at all like she’s sounded over the last several months over the phone.  My niece figured out something I seemed to be struggling with: this couldn’t wait.  Once again the question, “what are you waiting for?”

We wait because we are afraid.  Sometimes, we should be afraid not to move, rather than being afraid to act.  In my braver moments, my call to action is “ask for forgiveness, not for permission.” Those are not the words of a waiting woman.  Those are the words of a vanguard. I need more of the latter and a lot less of the former.  It’s time to wait differently.

Waiting is not necessarily bad.  You see, Advent is the season of “waiting expectantly.” It’s waiting with a plan.  Waiting on a thing instead of waiting “until.”  You see, “until” does not have a precise definition, standing alone.  Simeon the Righteous waited.  According to Luke’s account, he would not face death until he met the Messiah.  Simeon waited with a plan.  Simeon also had the good sense to listen to someone besides “they.”  If you are waiting, who are you listening to??

This morning, I began a 25-day Advent devotion plan.  I’m waiting expectantly.  I am preparing to receive the blessing of Christmas .  Writing in his blog, Below the Surface, A Conversation Between a Priest and a People about Life in Christian Community, the Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett says it so much better than I could…..

At the end of Advent, of course, comes our celebration of Christmas, of the birth of Jesus in history and also of the longing of the Risen Christ to be born anew in our hearts.  It is not a mistake that the time leading up to Christmas is abundant with apocalyptic images:  for if Christ is truly to be born anew in each of us, there are things in our lives which must be overturned, aspects of ourselves and our personal worlds that must be allowed to collapse so that a truer self, a more compassionate self, a more just personal world may be born – out of which we may act more justly in the larger world we inhabit.

Much like the lessons I learned cutting my hair, there are things from which I need to break free.  So, to the original question, “what are you waiting for?” I’m waiting for a Word from the Lord.  And, what shall I do while I wait? I will work on my plan, um, I meant His Plan for me. Expectant waiting and preparation…like waiting for a new baby…like waiting for a fabulous meal to be ready to eat…like waiting for the next evolution of yourself to be born.  I wait, but not like those who have no hope, no plan.  And even when I do not know what the next evolution will be, expectant waiting is a blessing. A blessed reminder that God is Good.

Today’s feast: Homemade roasted chicken soup (my version of Jewish Penicillin) 

Back story~by the time we were ready to leave Grandma’s house and head for home, both kids were sick.  Anybody can open up a can of condensed soup, and it takes not much more to make it from scratch…..and it’s better.  Just ask my babies…

5 chicken wings
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
32oz low sodium chicken stock in a box
1 medium yellow, onion chopped
¾ C Carrots, sliced
¼ C scallions
3 stems, fresh thyme
Dash of low sodium soy sauce
Leftover noodles, or 3 cups cooked egg noodles (I use semolina egg noodles)

Wash chicken wings and toss with salt and pepper, olive oil, and crushed garlic.  Place in a preheated oven and roast until golden brown.  Caramelize the onions in the remaining olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Add the carrots and deglaze the pan with the stock.  Add in the roasted chicken, thyme, and cook until chicken falls off the bone.  Remove wings from the pot, cleaning the bones, shred and return to soup pot.  Taste, and adjust seasoning by adding soy sauce (or any other flavor you’d like to have in your soup.)

Toss in the noodles, and simmer until they’re warm.  Just before serving, add in the scallions.

You’ll feel better before the bowl is empty.

Making it sexy….add any or all of the following:
  • ·         Curry powder
  • ·         Minced fresh ginger
  • ·         A spring of fresh rosemary
  • ·         A spring of fresh tarragon

Monday, November 21, 2011

Titchadesh!


He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

Titchadesh!


Behold, I will do a new thing,
      Now it shall spring forth;
      Shall you not know it?
      I will even make a road in the wilderness
      And rivers in the desert. 
Isaiah 43:19 (NKJV)




I didn’t realize that I’d taken the “New Year, New You” thing quite so seriously.  I also didn’t realize a) how long my hair was before I cut it, and b) how letting it go would literally change my head (inside AND out) when 2 hours later so much of it was on the floor.

Right on the heels of my birthday celebration blog (the day after…) I cut my hair. I discovered that my longest loc was 25” and when I averaged it out, cutting an average of 7” off each of my 70 locs (I have a few short ones that didn’t get clipped), I’d left over 40’ of hair on the floor.  I felt free.  I felt fresh, I felt renewed. 

A dear friend taught me something new that day (I love that my friends constantly enrich my life….what a blessing).  In Hebrew tradition, when a woman dons a new outfit or does something else dramatic to her look, the blessing is offered, “Titchadesh!” It is interpreted as “wear it in good health,” but literally means “May you be renewed.”

Look out, folks, I’m feelin’ new! I felt such a powerful cuteness getting out of the chair.  I even threatened to change my cell phone ring tone to “Whip My Hair” by Willow Smith (my children vetoed that idea, but it mae me giggle).  I feel a little more fearless, a little more edgy, a little more bold.

I am thankful that no matter what challenges arise in my life, there are moments of Grace; blessings strewn upon my rocky path.  For the children of Israel, in the midst of war and captivity in Babylon, the prophet offered the following word from the Lord….”Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth?”

So, lighter, sassier, more encouraged by and less afraid of the open road, I’m doin’ new. Lord, I thank You that You gave me no spirit of fear, so as long as my hand is in Yours.  I might slip, but I’ll never fall. Shoot, I might even sashay.

Since it’s my New Year, I’m choosing to give out the gifts.  Go be fearless.  Go be sassy.  Go be free.  And as you go, remember, how much is in your cup: You are filled to overflowing.  You are both blessed, and a blessing.  And either, or both, are sufficient evidence that God is Good.

Today’s feast: Crab Cakes (Part one of a three part recipe)

Back story~ One of my new favorite elegant breakfasts is Eggs Benedict, made with Crab Cakes on a bed of Potato Cakes instead of break, with poached eggs and a decadent and silky hollandaise sauce.  Stay tuned…

1lb fresh crab (jumbo lump is best)
8 multi-grain saltines, coarsely crushed
1 T salt free Cajun seasoning
½ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 beaten egg
Seasoned Panko, for breading
Canola oil for frying

Mix ingredients together, making certain that the crab is well moistened, but not wet.  Shape mixture into small cakes, in the palm of your hand.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight, to ensure the cakes are set up.

Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet.  Roll cakes in seasoned Panko for additional crunch and texture.  Pan fry until cakes are golden brown.  Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Viable…..Happy First Birthday, Blog Baby!


He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

 Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 (KJ21)

Do good wherever you go. After a while, the good you do will come back to you.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 (ERV)


Who knew the voices living inside my head could have a life outside? Who knew my own personal version of talk therapy could help/bless/amuse anybody besides me?

My blog turns one today, and as I talked to its holy, fairy godmother (my irreverent, itinerant preacher, sistah in the spirit and co-knucklehead…she of the “Jesus is my homeboy” bumper sticker….) we agreed that it’s been a miraculous experience.  I cannot thank her enough, along with my BFF, my “Gayle,” my daughter and entire family, and the sistah friends and village that has supported me as I’ve willingly jumped off this cliff.

Looking back, I’ve learned a lot. Looking back, I’ve written a lot.  I took a deep breath and cast my bread upon the water.  It has yielded more open relationships, provided clarity not only for me in writing but for many in reading and experiencing the process.  I’ve got to give a shout out to my dog as frequent carrier of messages from the Universe…yes, God speaks to my through my pony (Godzilla dog, puppy…he has been called by many names…).

Today I am both present and thankful.  Humbled, excited, and ready for more.  Now that I know my blog baby is viable, I want to see her grow. I wonder what she might become.  I’ve gotten numerous suggestions about what’s next, but today, I’m am present and thankful.  I am enjoying here.  Here is an accomplishment, if only a first step. And guess what, here is not where I’ll be this time next year, but here is good.  And seeing today’s good, and envisioning tomorrow’s good, each in their own context, is a rich blessing; a rich reminder that God is Good.
  
Today’s feast: Baked Brie en croute (an appropriately celebratory recipe)

Back story~ Whenever I want an elegant appetizer fast, I make this baked cheese dish.  According to my husband, men tolerate this, but my girlfriends LOVE IT! It never disappoints.

1 wheel of brie (about 6-8 inches across)
1 sheet of dough (you can use frozen puff pastry, or just as easily use Pillsbury crescent dough, which comes in sheets)
1T each chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried cherries, golden raisins
½ C fruit brandy (I usually choose apricot)

Rehydrate the fruits in brandy (teetotalers may substitute warm water for the spirits) up to overnight, to ensure they are plump and juicy.  Drain and discard any remaining liquid. 

Lay the round of cheese on the pastry dough, rolling once or twice to remove any creases.  Pile all the drained fruit on top of the brie.  Gently gather the corners of the pastry sheet like you are wrapping a package, folding or twisting as suits you.  Decorate with excess dough (I cut out leaves, or braid or twist pieces to make it fancy.

Brush the dough lightly with an egg wash (one beaten egg and enough milk to make “paint”. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 until the pastry is golden brown and flaky.

Serve with crackers and either a good (not too sweet) Riesling or Moscato.

Instant party!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

D.R.O.P Squad


He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

D.R.O.P Squad

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
"Sometimes," as one squad member best puts it, "when you get over the wall, you gotta throw a rope back -- not help them build it higher."
From the movie D.R.O.P Squad
~Spike Lee executive producer

Misguided Christians are scary (per Richard Glenn, with whom I agree).  I occasionally find myself in the position of defending what we believe, not always what we practice.  According to the Gospel, Jesus said that one of the most important things we could do was love our neighbors as ourselves.  Sometimes I’m not so sure I want the love everyone has to give.

I’m going to try to tell this story objectively…

A parent chaperoned her child and others on a private, Christian School field trip.  There was an incident, and it was this parent’s decision to strike a child, not her own, in front of other children for some perceived offense.  In the immediate wake of the incident, the parent thought it prudent to confess this action to school administrators on the trip.  No immediate call was made to the parent of the stricken child, who heard of the incident upon arriving to retrieve her child at the end of the school day.

The mother of the child who was hit, my close friend, told me about the incident a few days later.  I flipped out, and haven’t made my peace yet, though both the child’s parents have spoken to school administrators as well as the parent at the center of the incident. They have a peace about what occurred…so what’s wrong with me?

Well meaning is not well doing, that’s what’s wrong.  This parent needs the services of a Christian D.R.O.P. (Deprogramming and Restoration Of Pride) Squad, and should be dropped hard.  I’m so afraid that in her desire to be Godly, she got a good dose of the Old Testament but not so much of the New.   What happened to compassion?  I am embarrassed that someone would think its okay to lay hands on somebody else’s child.  Flippantly, I told his mom that I’d have advised him to hit her back, threatening “I had as much right to hit you as you did me…” but I know that’s not right (though it feels good….). I am saddened that when we cause harm (and finding no better solution to a problem than to hit someone else’s  child IS HARMFUL), we cannot be loving enough to put the harm we cause above our own justifications or even opinions about whether it should have been done. Was there no opportunity to teach an object lesson?

Children watch what we do as well as what we say.  Do we really want to be caught in the act of doing something wrong? I strive to teach both in word and deed that we should do the right thing, precisely because it is right.  When I miss the mark, and I do, I have given my children permission to call me on my failings, as long as they do so in a way that models loving correction.  It’s my challenge to model that no one is above the rules, not even me. It’s equally important (at least in my world) to teach loving correction in the context of constructive critique, not “GOTCHA!”

I’m not going to judge, because I have more to lose than to gain (I ain’t perfect…).  I’m thankful that He’s given me a heart to throw the rope back over the wall, making it easier for my children (or anyone else walking behind me to love as I want love) instead of making it look hard instead of easy… I am going to thank God that I’m trying to do it right, and also thank Him that He loves me in the meantime, screw-ups and all. When I think about the bounty of a loving God, I am reminded that I will never be in need.  And again I am reminded that God is Good.

Today’s feast: Drop biscuits

Back story~ I usually prefer my biscuits rolled and cut, but when I’m making savory biscuits (cheddar chive, for example) they’re just better rustic looking.  This is a recipe any good southern girl needs in her repertoire.

2C unbleached all purpose flour
3t baking powder (make sure it’s not old)
Dash of sea salt
4T Crisco butter flavored shortening
1C buttermilk

Sift together all the dry ingredients, and then cut in the shortening with a fork only until the dough looks like streusel (crumbly).  Add the buttermilk, a little at a time, just until the dough comes together.  Drop biscuits by rounded spoonfuls (any size you like) onto a pre-heated lightly greased baking sheet, baking at 450 degrees until they are lightly browned. 

Making it sexy….add any of the following:
·         Shredded sharp cheddar (no more than 1C)
·         Chopped chives
·         Blue cheese crumbles (no more than ½C)
·         Fresh chopped herbs, e.g., 1T rosemary, thyme, sage, chervil, anything you like…

Monday, November 14, 2011

Retreat…


He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

Retreat…
 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
   may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
 May he send you help from the sanctuary
   and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
   and accept your burnt offerings.  Selah
Psalms 20:1-3 (NIV)

  an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable 
 the process of receding from a position or state attained : the usually forced withdrawal of troops from an enemy or from an advanced position 
a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director
from Merriam.com, definition of retreat

My Gayle came to hang out after spending three days at a women’s retreat sponsored by her church.  She’s so good.  I told her that part of me would have loved to attend the retreat with her, but I’d probably have spent most of the sessions sitting in the naughty corner…I can be a tad irreverent.  God knows my heart, but I’m not at all sure He immediately tells everyone else that He loves me just the way I am.
She came, because as much as she needed retreat, she wanted to give me retreat as well.  I understand, and it is only one of the reasons I love her…

After the birth of her second son, in the wake of her mother passing, she was a little overwhelmed.  Within the first month, my family rode in as the cavalry…allowing her retreat.  The husbands hung out, my son took charge of her eldest, and my daughter and I took charge of her and the baby.  She retreated. By Sunday afternoon of that weekend as we were preparing to depart, she wasn’t teetering on any brinks anymore.  She’d found her sea legs.  Her batteries were recharged.

This weekend, she luxuriated in her retreat, and I sought out my own. We got pedicures…her toes purple, mine orange and black.  We giggled.  We giggled a lot.  We laughed so much that we had to explain to complete strangers that we were happy just to be together. I even shared her with my family; she ate a complete hot meal at a restaurant; didn’t cut anybody’s food but her own.

As a retired Air Force Officer, she understands the psychology of withdrawing, as a form of retreat.  According to Wikipedia,
withdrawal is a type of military operation, generally meaning retreating forces back while maintaining contact with the enemy. A withdrawal may be undertaken as part of a general retreat, to consolidate forces, to occupy ground that is more easily defended, or to lead the enemy into an ambush.  

For us civilians, it amounts to a time out.  It doesn’t mean surrender, it means I’m taking a break, and who couldn’t use a break??

According to biblical scholars, the 20th Psalms was likely written before going to war, so it’s apropos of the notion of retreat.  Retreat was never intended to mean, “I quit.”  It merely means I need a minute, I need to recharge, and then I’m coming back (probably with a vengeance).

I love to mix it up, but I am equally grateful for the wisdom that reminds me to slow down, fall back, retreat.  Wise warriors care for themselves, particularly when they’ve already planned to take the hill. 
As I consider today’s hodgepodge of blessings, I am thankful for the good sense to fall back, as necessary.  I am thankful for wisdom that permits me to rest before I collapse.  I am thankful that among my many blessings, God has poured into me a modicum of good sense.  And while good sense may not be something in my bank account, I praise Him nonetheless for its immeasurable value.  Good sense is another reminder of my cup that overflows.  And that abundance is today’s clue that God is Good.

Today’s Feast: My Homemade Pesto 

Back story-Today’s recipe was going to be Grilled Potato Salad, usually a summer treat, but because of mild weather, the side dish for yesterday’s grilled dinner (chicken, turkey Italian sausage, steelhead trout and asparagus). However, I use my homemade pesto to make my grilled potato salad, so you’ll just have to standby for another day’s feast.  It’ll be worth it. Once again, this is more process that precisely measured recipe…it should come out tasting good to you.

2 C fresh basil leaves, cleaned but dry
4 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
About ¼ C parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
About ¼ C extra virgin olive oil, to start
Freshly cracked pepper and sea salt, to taste

In a food processor, add the garlic and parmesan to the basil leaves.  Start with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and process.  Continue drizzling in oil until the pesto is the texture of slightly warm peanut butter (holds on a spoon but is still silky).  Add salt and cracked black pepper to taste.  The cheese should be the primary salty tang, but all the elements should be balanced.  When you get it right, no one ingredient should overpower any of the others.

You may certainly add pine nuts, walnuts, or use arugula and or parsley in making this recipe your own, but this is how we do it.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No ifs, ands, or buts…


He Treats Me to a Feast; Notes from my Abundant Life

No ifs, ands, or buts…

We who are strong in faith should help the weak with their weaknesses, and not please only ourselves. Let each of us please our neighbors for their good, to help them be stronger in faith. Even Christ did not live to please himself. It was as the Scriptures said: "When people insult you, it hurts me.
Romans 15:1-3 (NCV)


If you mean to give a compliment, give it unrestrained.  If you mean to say, “Way to go…” just do it.  Buts aren’t fair.  In the wake of a loved one’s success, our praise should be limitless.  You might have done it differently, or not at all; save it, because right now, nobody cares, it’s not about you.  There will be time for post-mortems where everyone gets opportunities to participate in “lessons learned.”  Somebody else just won the battle.  No fighter studies the replay at the victory party…at the victory party, it’s all about the victory.  Training, learning, analysis will all keep until the morrow.

I wasn’t the best friend I could be yesterday, and today I apologized.  I wasn’t intentionally insensitive…that’s not the point.  My “Gayle” had a big thing to do, yesterday, and she did it big.  I was proud of her.  She called for support (NOT ADVICE) before her meeting, and that’s what I gave.  What got me in trouble, however, was what happened next.

She was giving me the blow-by-blow, and it was masterful.  I was so proud.  At one point, genuinely well-intended, I said, “they’re lucky they were talking to you” meaning only that someone else might have been more squarely focused on revenge and retribution than problem-solving…and all she heard what something besides “CONGRATULATIONS!” Me and my big mouth.

I used soft words, I just used too many.  I wasn’t even intending to please myself, I thought I was being helpful.  The point is, when you love someone, you focus on their good…not your own.

When I apologized, she laughed at me.  We talked about our individual insecurities, whereby any feedback is instantly internalized as criticism, and a personal indictment.  While I appreciated her kindness, it was still my lesson.

The next time you want to support someone, do it with no ifs, no ands, no buts.  Just be supportive.  Like God.  He just loves us…despite our best efforts.  And since we’re never perfect, never quite there, it surely is a blessing that we don’t get all the feedback.  And perfect loving acceptance, for we imperfect beings, is more evidence of our abundance…which is just another reminder that God is good.

Today’s Feast: Artichoke Dip

Back story-I took a friend’s recipe, lightened and otherwise altered it, and always make this for entertaining.  It’s good on crackers, good on bread (particularly my homemade rosemary bread), or great as a condiment in a sandwich.  Trust me, this is just good, no ifs, ands, or buts.

1 15oz can of artichokes
½ C non-fat  yogurt
½ C mayo
2 eggs
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
½-¾ C parmesan cheese (shredded or grated)
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Puree until smooth, bake at 325 until firm and lightly browned on top.

OneWord 2015

OneWord 2015

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