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Sunday, July 31, 2011

When nothing else will do…

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

When nothing else will do…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5: 6 (NIV)

We were walking the dog this morning in the park; a stunning Sunday morning, my husband and I.  I was jonesing a tomato tarte.  I was envisioning the variety of tomatoes I’d nestle therein, juicy striped green and yellow heirlooms, perhaps a deep red with nearly purple stripes, green, maybe, and lots of garlic and a flaky crust.  I almost couldn’t concentrate on the beauty of the morning, the conversation I was engaged in with my wonderful husband, and the sheer, simple joy of seeing the park through the puppies eyes.  I instinctively knew it would be good.

We had a pleasant walk, nearly 2 miles, and left the park headed for the grocery.  I simply couldn’t get that tarte out of my mind.  There are just some times when nothing else will do.

I came home and executed something even my picky firstborn enjoyed.  (yes, there is a recipe to follow…)As I sat down to breakfast, already satisfied by having created according to my desire, I knew it would be good.  It was; it didn’t disappoint.  It pleased the eyes, thrilled the palate, and filled my belly, in a healthy, joyful way.  There are just some times when nothing else will do.

Lord, happy and filled with my simple breakfast dish, teach me to seek Your Face such that nothing else will do.  Nothing but a homemade tomato tarte was going to give me the deep satisfaction my mind needed after forming the thought.  There are just some times when nothing else will do.

I’m off to dress for church, intent on enjoying worship along with the rest of this gift of a day.  I got what I wanted, it was well within my reach, it was good for me, and I am clear that God provided in order to teach me this simple lesson of abundance.  I always have what I need, He has always provided, and when I thirst or hunger, I am quenched.  Even when I believe that nothing else will do.  He is my ever present answer to nothing else. Ever presently.  And that, like every other time, is further evidence that God is Good. 

Tomato Tarte (in a hurry)
Pastry to line a tarte pan (in this case it’s the leftover crescent dough from the brie en croute I made last week, ever thrifty)
2T homemade pesto (that recipe another day)
4 Campari tomatoes (what I had in pantry)
2T shaved Parmesan
1t Bourbon pepper (because it tastes really good, and I keep it in the pantry)

Preheat the oven to 375 (convection ovens are the bomb!)
Roll out the pastry dough with a little flour, and shape into the pan.  Using about 1T of the pesto, cover the bottom of the shell with pesto.  Cut the tomatoes into 4 even slices, roughly ¼ inch thick.  Lay the slices in an overlapping pattern until the shell is filled. Sprinkle with pepper and cover with the parmesan.

Bake the tarte until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Eat and be satisfied, because there are just some times when nothing else will do.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Serendipity is another word for God...

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

Serendipity is another word for God…

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:19(NIV)

Serendipity is a whimsical way of looking at life, being delighted by the unexpected, enhanced by new insights and surprise touches from God. …
~Jan Coleman

We were headed to the town pool. Our town has three, and my plan was to go to the one we always go to...I’d been cranky, and had just lost my temper.  I decided to go to another pool, one I'd never visited, just in case I needed to be close to home.   Serendipity is another word for God. 

Parking the car and headed for a beach chair desperate to relax, my son ran into a former classmate whom he hadn’t seen in two years.  The mom and I were friendly, but had never hung out.  I’d always liked her, but never took it any further.  I’m bad that way…

We had a lovely afternoon, entirely unexpected, and really enjoyable.  I’m looking forward to seeing her again, soon.  She’s a foodie, and a great conversationalist.  Time flew.

As we parted, she said that our encounter was “serendipitous.” Hmmm.  I don’t believe in serendipity, exactly.  Serendipity is another word for God. 

One of the things this mom remembered about me was my email address (@treatmetoafeast.com) which people always think is my catering company.  (Hmmm-serendipity? Is catering my new job??)  In fact, she’d nearly recommended me to a friend seeking a caterer.  I laughed, and confessed that "treatmetoafeast" is the name of a cookbook I haven’t written yet.  Serendipity is another word for God. 

She encouraged me to write the book, one, because she’s a foodie (I know, I mentioned that), and two, because she does signing events at bookstores for authors.  Serendipity is another word for God. 

Today, I earnestly began work on the book.  I completed an introduction, and an outline with chapter titles.  I’ve had accountability partners for writing in the past, it’s how this blog got started, but I’m intending to move forward and get the book done and published this time.  It’s been a goal of mine for a while, and although I’ve accomplished several goals on my list, I still have more to complete.

So, today’s blog is dedicated to my mom friend, whom I need to hang out with more often, for reminding me that in the Kingdom of God, there is no such thing as serendipity.  Serendipity is just another way to describe God’s hand on my life. 

Thank You Lord, for finding a new way to remind me that You are there, Active, Omnipresent.  Thank You Lord for placing people in paths I didn’t intend to take in order to encounter blessings I didn’t know I needed, blessings placed precisely where You knew I’d find them.  Thank You Lord for placing so much in my life that once again, my cup overflows.  And today, like every day, I have further evidence that God is Good.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No regrets…

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

No regrets…

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
  ~Psalms 90:12

Be wise in the use of time. The question in life is not how much time do we have. The question is what we shall do with it. 
~Anna Robertson Brow

Get it done.  No regrets.  Get it done.  Whatever it is, just finish it.  Around 4 am this morning, the smoke detector failed, or at least notified us that the battery or something needed replacement.  My husband got up, removed it, and went to look for batteries.  When none could be located, we got dressed, around 6, and went to purchase replacements.  If certain things are not attended to immediately, they may not get done.

“I’m going to work out.” I formulate the thought.  However, if I don’t get up and start working out, I likely will postpone my workout for another day.  Don’t articulate something and then get distracted, regrets stink.  Just get it done.

“I should clean the house.” Maybe I start, but then I get distracted by something or another, and….
Today I’m just getting it done. As it turns out, we didn’t need a new battery, we need a new smoke detector.  I’m headed to Home Depot.  We also need to change the filter on the HVAC unit (All hail, central air…) that’s on my list too.  And it’s not too late to pick up the pool passes, because we’re in for another heat wave. And, in full disclosure, I should’ve written this yesterday, because today is Tuesday, not Monday.  Next week-get it done, on time.

He teaches us, though we often fail to heed, to number our days so they may not be wasted.  They should not be filled with busyness, but should be filled purposely, and chock full of Praise.

Thank You, Lord, for ensuring I finally get the lesson.  Get it done.  No regrets.  Get it done.  Whatever it is, just finish it.   And when I not too well appreciated 4:00 am wake up can be viewed as a Word from the Lord, I have further evidence that God is Good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A little too much of a good thing…

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

A little too much of a good thing…

Hast thou found honey? Eat only so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith and vomit it.
Proverbs 25:16(KJV21)

So you knew there had to be a story about yesterday, right? A blog about the blog about having fun? Let’s just say that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing…..

Temperature in the 90s.  Relative humidity 70%.  UV index 9 (and it shows, on my newly more-bronzed skin).  Kids of various ages, 10, 14, and 16, old enough (and tall enough) to get on all the rides and pretty much look after themselves, as long as we all stuck together.  We did.  Only one conversation, before getting on the highway, about bickering and getting along. Only one conversation necessary.

It was to be the fulfillment of many dreams deferred; first roller coasters, first mastery of a fear of thrill rides, finally having a friend who likes to play and act as silly as me.  Nothing about the day disappointed.  We got wet.  We flew high.  We slew many dragons, suffering no ill effects.  WE HAD FUN.

I was even comfortable saying no.  There are things I know I should not do, and yesterday, without guilt or shame, I didn’t.  I let other people have fun.  Let other people choose the order and the variety of entertainment I said, after eating the “butterfly fries” or homemade chips that I love, that I was probably done.  I should’ve listened.  I didn’t.  There was one more thrill to seek.

From the Six Flags website
Standing 154 feet tall and reaching speeds of 63 mph, GREEN LANTERN ranks among the tallest and fastest roller coasters of its kind anywhere in the world. Unlike traditional seated coasters, GREEN LANTERN allows you to stand throughout the entire course of the ride that delivers a ride experience unlike any other. The two minute and thirty second thrill begins with a pulse-quickening 45 degree vertical drop before rocketing you through five inversions – including a 121-foot-tall loop, a 103-foot dive loop, a 72-foot inclined loop and twisted double corkscrews.   

I should’ve left the rest of the honey alone.  It was a day filled with unparalleled delights-- smiles on my children’s faces, the smile on my own and those of the people we were hanging out with in the park.  I’d sat out other rides, and it wasn’t like I wasn’t ever going back to Six Flags.  But, as is so often the case in life, we fall victim to our own free will.  Was it my fear of missing out, fear perhaps of the feeling that there was more joy if I only went a little further, my hunger for more when the scriptures say I should be satisfied? When is enough ever enough?  I will spare you the details except to say, we needed to pull over on the highway on the way home.  I should’ve left the rest of the honey alone.

So, today, resting, recuperating, reflecting, I found myself in Proverbs.  Have you found honey? Consider this; you didn’t discover the honey-look again, you found it.  It was placed there by Hands not seen but omnipresent.  If suddenly your honey pots were all to break, or your cache were to be taken away, He would provide.  He always does.

Be wise where I was foolish. There should be no need for excess among His people. Don’t be the last to leave the party.  Don’t be the one to eat the most.  Don’t do it if you think you shouldn’t.  There’s a reason why you think you shouldn’t.
So, a bit humbled, a little tired, a little wiser, I give thanks for the day I had.  WE HAD FUN.  I learned a lesson not anticipated, but much appreciated.  Thank you, Lord, for making my reflections on a day of fun as potent as was the day itself.  An unanticipated blessing.  See, I keep telling you….just further evidence that God is Good.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Time to get my fun on…


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

Time to get my fun on…
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10

We can choose happy.  Isn’t that a more satisfying choice than choosing unhappy? It’s Monday morning, and sun shines on me.  Yesterday’s sermon was about Soul Refreshing….from Psalms 42.  I didn’t know how much I needed refreshing.  

We’re off to Six Flags, and I may be more excited than the Little Ws.  I need a break.  I keep telling myself, my husband, anyone listening, that Grace, relief from our current trials, is just around the corner.  I’m desperately wanting to believe it…not that I don’t, I’m just getting a little weary, is all.  But today, I plan to play and laugh like that is my job.

Silly, huh, that traveling to an amusement park is a useful metaphor for seeking joy.  I have absolutely no intention of being unhappy, or not having gut-busting fun today.  Life still is, trials still come, things are not where I want them, but that is the nature of life.  We appreciate sweet because of salty; we exult in success because we have known failure.  The sun rises every day, and with it are poured out new mercies, measuring just enough for the challenges we will face.  There is enough.

So, I’m putting on my sneakers, long-walking the dog so he’ll be content while we are out, and planning to walk, run, scream, laugh, get wet, and be thankful;  …thankful that my BFF is no more ashamed to be a kid than I am; thankful she instigated this excursion.  Thankful that we can afford the indulgence (did you know the basic price for a theme park ticket is nearly $60???) and we might actually be able to eat there as well….if we share and have snacks before we land at the park….

I am thankful that God send multiple reminders that though we are imperfect, His Love for us is not.  Though we are afraid, He safely enfolds us in His arms.  Though we get more than a little confused, we are commanded, after partaking of His word and abiding in His Grace, to eat the fat, drink sweet wine, and share a portion of our blessings with any in need.  We are commanded to HAVE FUN, because the joy of the Lord is  our strength.

So, I’m off to worship at Six Flags, because that’s what I’m blessed to do.  Blessed not to be grieved, because The Almighty has my back.  What abundance.  What clear evidence that God is Good.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You will take me for a walk…

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

You will take me for a walk…
  Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust.
Psalms 16:1 (KJV21)

It’s time for another sermon from the dog.  I’ve been taken to task three times this morning by people who love me for retreating into my miserableness and robbing people who need it of my sunshine (and here I was thinking my miserableness was all about me….hrmph!)

Every morning, I hear the conversely plaintive, playful, pleading cries of our doggy requesting his morning walk.  His faith is unassailable, like mine needs to be.  There is no quavering uncertainty about whether he will be leased, walked, watered, fed, played with, or adored.  His reality is incontrovertible...you will take me for a walk.
He must be walked.  Not only for purposes of health and hygiene, but also because it reinforces his place in the pack, his position in the family, his relationship with each of us, because it is what we do.  Like the unshakable faith we’re supposed to have in God.

We spend so much time worrying, fearing, contingency-planning, strategizing, that we are never, or at least I am never, or very seldom ever, certain, like my dog, that I am preserved because I have placed my trust in God. I desire for it to be so simple.

I can be asleep, in the early morning, on a weekend day after being up far too late for good health or good sense.  When Sando cries, it is with full assurance that he says, as only my puppy can, “you will take me for a walk.” It is not a command.  It is not a demand.  It simply is.  Like the love of God.  It simply is.

I have slowly devolved into a grumpy, frightened person whom I don’t enjoy spending time with, much.  I need to listen to the sermon from my dog.  His clarity is undeniable, and suddenly, inspirational.  Consider the lilies of the field…

You will take me for a walk.  You will never allow me to walk alone.  You have always been my strength.  You raised the sun, before I awakened. You ended the night and ushered in the day, whether I was in the mood or not.  You are eternal, and I must depend upon you.

I’m easing out of my funk, despite my best efforts, because people love me and are vested in my joy.  I overcomplicate and over think things all the time, because I can neither get out of my own head nor my own way.

I need to act like my dog. When it rains, he gets walked.  When he’s naughty, he gets walked.  When he wakes up way too early, knocks things down and knocks things over, he gets walked.  His faith is indomitable, and I can’t be beaten by a dog….so, thank you Lord, for filling my cup to overflowing even when I’m so busy focusing on the mess that I can’t see the abundance.  Because all around, my life is richly filled with abundant blessings, and, as on every other day, I see further evidence that God is Good.

Friday, July 8, 2011

But I don’t want to be perfect…

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

But I don’t want to be perfect…

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1:2-4

I’ve had my fill of character-building.  Lately, it seems to be what I’m best at doing.  I neither want nor need any more character, with all due respect, Lord.  In the last two weeks, we’ve had two working cars, one working car, no working cars…a car that wasn’t working that now mysteriously works again, when we really, REALLY needed it, and a car repair that could’ve been really expensive, but wasn’t.  Just when we thought things were getting back to normal, the surprising “back from the dead” car died, and the newly repaired one gave out.  The timing was fortuitous, all things considered, and now the re-repaired car is back on the road.  I’ve had my fill of the trying of my faith, not that you care, Father.

I moreso appreciate Paul’s words….”Count it all joy” as I age.  There is a part of me that wishes it weren’t so, but it is what it is…I am trying to teach and model for my children that perspective is everything.  The glass is always half full and never half empty.  More than just an empty platitude, it is a way of seeing the world.
Even when my plate is full of challenges, I am abundantly blessed and grateful.  Even when both cars were out of service, we could, and did, walk nearly everywhere we needed to go.  Even though I’ve been frustrated about settling into a plateau with about 7 of the 40 pounds I thought I outran (I don’t lose weight because I do not intend to find it when it leaves….), all this additional walking has given me a kick start in the bum (and thighs) for which I am grateful.  There’s always a blessings when you look.  I have also learned, during this latest trying of my faith, the patience thing, or at least I am getting there.  The meltdown is not useful, because it won’t move the needle, thereby making it at waste of time and energy (I don’t like wasting time and energy).

So, with our re-repaired car in the driveway and a plan to keep it moving, I pause to offer thanks.  Thank You Lord for trying my faith.  I am trying. Keep perfecting me, trying me in the refining fire.  I cried less and prayed more this week than I might have expected, and that is a blessing.  Blessings are my constant reminder, my abiding evidence that God is Good. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Content in whatever state I am…

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

Content in whatever state I am…

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity;
Philippians 4:11

I really should lay out on the floor and holler right now; I think I’ve earned it.  I called my mom to say that I was almost strong enough not to cry; I don’t think I sounded like the tears were falling, but they were. She probably knew, but didn’t say. She’s like that.  It’s been a rough day.    

I had my second car towed in two days, this time from somewhere around mile marker 109.1 on the Garden State Parkway.  I was calm, with two 10 year-old boys in the car, remaining upbeat and positive; quietly praying as I began to plan for the worst.  The worst did not happen.  We were able to safely pull over, and as we called AAA for help, both local authorities and our traveling companions pulled up.  The kids are at the beach; the car is at the mechanic’s; I am safely home. 

Even as I vented to my BFF, I was clear that I am abundantly blessed.  It could’ve been worse.  Even as I cry about it now, I know my blessing is just beyond my ability to see it.  Despite today, and yesterday, I have learned to be content in whatever state I am.  I am a little beaten up…but not beaten down.  I am a little bruised, but still conscious and able to fight.  I am staggering, but I haven’t fallen down. 

I’ll be fine.  And I can cry if I want to, because tears are prayers too.   I am allowed to be content and a little sad at the same time, all while glorifying God.  Because between tears and contentment, I am abundantly blessed.  And each and every blessing is further evidence that God is Good.  

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