Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hairy Legs

I've always wanted to be a part of one of those couples who reads quietly in bed.

I even bought the bedside tables (with drawers for our enlightenment material) and cute little lamps.

I envisioned peaceful evenings where one of us would pause, finger marking the spot, and share insightful nuggets that would precipitate growth and emotional intimacy.

Reality is far different.

Exhausted from herding the short people through after school practices, homework, dinner, chores (need a cattle prod to get them through those) and general cleanup, I fall onto the couch next to my bleary-eyed hunk and stare at the scenes flashing across the TV.

We stay up too late because we're too tired to go to bed.

So rather than sharing insightful truths, we are treading sleep-deprived waters, frantically trying to make it to shore before we hit the teenage rapids around the bend.

The only growth I'm getting is the hair on my legs.

What I am learning is to roll with the punches. Life on the edge of insanity is only a season (a very long eighteen year season).

And one day we'll look at each other and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Goal Oriented

I'm an ultra goal-oriented girl with a case of envy.

I envy those relaxed moms who can chuckle at life while playing a leisurely game of Shoots and Ladders with the short people while the bills are crying to be paid, the stuffed laundry hamper is starting to smell, and the ring around the tub is hosting a bacterial hula party.

Uusally by 5:00 pm when life is kicking me in the hind end—dinner has yet to be determined and I have to take one of the children to practice—my youngest son will pick that moment to give me a play-by-play of his hour long basketball scrimmage with his older brother.

I manage sporadic eye contact and impatient, "Mmm hmm, mmhmms," before I finally stop him and say, "Honey, I'm in a hurry, can you tell me in the car?" and then harangue the kids all the way to practice for not being ready when I needed to leave—completely forgetting my son's story.

I can get so focused on the goal (get there on time, clean the house, empty out those drawers, get the pictures in the scrapbook . . . ) that the kids float somewhere along the periphery.

The other day after noticing how harried my life gets and how impatient I can become, I pleaded with the Lord to help me to slow down and really listen to my kids. I want them to know they are the most important beings in my universe and not just a detail I'll get to when everything else is accomplished.

And it hit me. Make them the goal. Why not flip things around and make their well-being the goal of every interaction I have with them? And that goal trumps every other one on my list.

Pastor Wayne Cordeiro once shared this thought in a sermon. "Imagine that children have a sign around their necks that reads, 'Help me feel good about myself today.'"

We have such an impact on how our children view themselves. And I want that view to be a good one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lovely Not Ugly

I've been reading an amazing book, Finding Peace for Your Heart by Stormie O'Martian. Stormie points out how critical it is to our emotional health to confess and repent of sin.

Because I know that when we receive salvation all our sins (past, present and future) have been forgiven, I don't spend a lot of time on the confessing part. I toss up my share of, "Sorry, Lord, there I go agains," but don't really focus on the confessing of it. Sometimes I even skate around my sinfulness because of the shame I feel for my behavior.

Then Stormie shared (and I agree) that though we are forgiven and our citizenship in heaven is certain and secure, unconfessed sin becomes a weight we drag around.

A little further along, she said that when we are victimized by others, our response to it can be sinful and needs to be confessed. I was still nodding until my gaze skidded to a stop on the sin of criticism.

I felt my defensive heels dig in. But Lord, I'm not trying to be critical, it's just when they . . . and I saw myself trying to justify why I had a right to criticize and judge.

Oh, yes, my rights. I wear them like armor. You see, on some level (yeah, that would be the fleshly one) I believe I have a right to be critical if I have been wronged by them (all those thems out there that spoke rudely to me, that cut me off in traffic, even the short ones who talked back to me after I told them to put their breakfast bowls in the dishwasher instead of the sink).

Stormie made it abundantly clear—quoting Bible verses no less—that I have no rights when it comes to this.

So I reluctantly started confessing and repenting. She hammered that one home too. No point in confessing (apologizing) if we have no intention of repenting (turning away from the sin and behavior).

So after pondering all this, I wandered to the kitchen to make myself a cup of late night cocoa (I was craving and it was the only chocolate in the house). I told the Lord that I realize I often avoid him because I don't want him to see the criticalness and judgment I have in me.

He pretty much said that was silly since he already knew it was there. So feeling like a kid digging her toes in the dirt, I asked, "So what do you think of me when I'm like that?"

I truly felt like he said, "I think you're lovely."

I blurted out. "But I'm so ugly in my sin." And I heard. "Don't call ugly what I call lovely."

He reminded me that all my sin has been paid for and his anger satisfied when Jesus took it upon himself, so what is left, is my loveliness.

Isn't that amazing? And it is for each one of us.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine’s Dessert

I was sitting with TDH watching TV the other night. This is a rare thing. Usually he is watching TV while I have my nose in a book.

Though he's usually just delighted to have me in the same room with him (even when I wear ear plugs—can't stand the noise of the TV while I immerse myself in another world).

An advertisement for Rachel Ray came on. She was describing the delectable and easy dishes you can make and serve up for your honey. I stared at the screen, Rachel in her white apron whipping together yummy entrĂ©es that would take me hours to make—or at least hours to clean up.

With my eyes lusting after some steamy dish she'd made, I wistfully mused, "I wish I had a cook." Then I turned to TDH and said, "I bet you're glad you have one."

A slow smile spread across his face, but he wisely didn't say a word.

So I'm going to take a side turn here and share a recipe I recently acquired (from a Costco newsletter, via a neighbor's Christmas open house where I had to stop myself from hiding this dish in my coat and sneaking it home). It is rich, rich, rich, and oh, so yummy! Happy Valentine's Day!

Brownie Pudding:

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter (plus extra for buttering the dish)
4 extra large eggs (at room temperature)
2 cups sugar
¾ c good cocoa
½ c flour
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean (try 1 ½ tsp vanilla instead)
1 TBSP framboise liqueur (I didn't have this—um, what is framboise?)

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping

Preheat oven 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 2 quart oval baking dish.

Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5-10 minutes, until, very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile sift cocoa powder and flour together.

When egg and sugar mixture is ready, lower the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise (if using), and cocoa mixture. Mix only until combined. With the mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again, just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted2 inches from the side will come out ¾ clean. The center will appear very underbaked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with ice cream (or whipped topping).

Serves 6 (or two really greedy people!).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Magical Moments

I'm on a writing deadline and apologize for not blogging last week. Today I'm posting a guest blog I wrote for another blogger.)

Books have always held magic for me. I walk into a bookstore with lust in my heart and money in hand, hurriedly threading my way between patrons, my eyes feasting on the colorful titles that line the shelves, searching for the right story to match whatever mood I happen to be in.

Just the smell of the ink on the new pages sends a thrill coursing through me and engulfs my time and attention for hours as each turned page takes me deeper into adventures previously unknown.

The end of a book is something to be both anticipated and dreaded.

Books are more satisfying than the richest dessert (and that's saying a lot for this chocoholic—though a good book and a slice of chocolate torte have sent me into raptures).

I first discovered the magic of books in the second grade. My tiny elementary school, with its three rooms and forty children encompassing eight grades, stressed the importance of reading. I unexpectedly reached a new juncture when I was forced to check out a book to read on my own.

I don't recall the titles in the series I fell in love with, but they had rich yellow covers that sent a wave of anticipation through me each time I discovered a new yellow spine hiding among the brown and ecru colored books that lined the bookshelves.

I read them all, over and over, these delicious yellow books that regaled the legends of the gods and goddesses of Hawaii. Being a model participant in my Sunday School class, it felt a bit daring to be reading something so pagan.

But these books transported me from the cold, rainy winters of Oregon to lush, balmy rainforests, warm lagoons with cascading waterfalls, and to the volcano where Pele wielded her power.

Those books opened a door that took me from an existence of shyness and isolation into a world where I became strong, confident and capable—the heroine who could solve any problem, who could say "no" with fire in her eyes.

These books started me on a path of learning about lands foreign to my landscape and showed me that books could take me to places beyond myself.

In a sense, books saved me and opened my eyes to what could be.