Rapture 2011

20 05 2011

I’m not a prophet, but the end of the world is here.

Tomorrow, May 21, 2011, is the day Jesus will come back according to Harold Camping, and the world will be destroyed five months later.  Some have spent crazy amounts of money helping to spread the news so that no one gets left behind.

Most people familiar with the Bible know there is a verse in which Jesus states that no one knows the hour or day when time will end except Father God in heaven.  So it seems more than a little presumptuous that any minister of the Word of God would be bold enough to name a time.  More than a little!

However, think a little longer with me about this.

Walk down a theater ramp, suspend your disbelief, and listen to the movie theme rising as the house lights dim.  About 15 minutes into the show disaster erupts and people are dying all over the place without a hero in sight.  Tension builds as plot lines intersect until the climax, when civilization is rescued (just barely) by an average guy who cares so much about those in harm’s way, he takes on almost super-human strength and qualities.  An emotional domestic scene wraps up the loose ends as lovers, and former enemies, put pettiness behind them for what truly matters.

Now step back into reality with me, trading daylight for the imposed darkness.  A little shift has occurred in my mind and heart; I am not the same as I was before I entered the theater.  How about you?

So, what if tomorrow is our last day together?  How would that change today?  What pettiness would become unimportant, and what priorities would become clear as metaphorical dust settles in slow motion through sunrays?  Statistically, a pretty big group of people will exit life’s theater tomorrow into eternal reality.  I could be in that group.  So could you.

Dates and equations, histrionics and drama aside, maybe Rev. Camping isn’t as crazy as everyone is saying he is.  And maybe I am a prophet.

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Living Reality

16 05 2011

Praying outside changes everything for me.  For one thing I’m usually walking, and that makes it hard to fall asleep.  Not that prayer is boring, but when I’m sitting in the dark with my eyes closed, my heart rate slows, and I begin to relax… until I suddenly jerk myself awake with a snort.  Those around me snicker, and I want to crawl under the brand new olefin-upholstered chairs.  Instead I go outside the walls.

Outside the air contains no polymer vapors.  Even walking alongside exhaust fumes from the heavy traffic, I feel the freshness scrubbing my insides clean of closed up dankness.  My soul prays faster.  (Is it possible to have a prayer speed?)  “Scrub out the insides of my heart; replace it with the fresh wind of your Spirit for Your breath gives me life; carry me along into the fast lane of your will and get me off my comfortable behind; send your Spirit to wash over me like the rocks in this brook carrying away my bad attitude and frustrations that act like the quicksand that almost sucked me; and let me run – run and jump and dance and twirl like the leaves blowing ahead of me as I sing your praises that reach past the clouds holding back the sun into Your holy presence,” my heart gasped for breath.  Because there was more.  Much more that came tumbling out like lilacs so heavy with fragrance, the alabaster vase tipped over and broke, spilling their scent freely and profusely everywhere.

I stopped suddenly, captivated, during a break in the traffic while the leaves fluttered to earth in a slow motion lull as I prayed, taking in the cemetery across the street.  In the momentary stillness I heard a chorus praying with me.  Not audible voices, and not all saying the same words, but praise rising.  Not from the rocks (I was praising Him, so they had to be silent), but from the gravestones.

Many of those whose bodies are buried in the secluded glens across the road are singing in the presence of the Most High God, not needing to catch their breath as I now caught mine.  Through the quick temporal crack, I worshiped with them, inspired by their deafening inaudible song and encouraged by their present reality.

Praying outside changes me.





What I Want for Mothers’ Day

6 05 2011

-A letter to retailers*

The 20-pound newspaper from last Sunday just landed in the recycling bin with a louder thud than I expected. The volume of ads the weekend before Mothers’ Day is second only to the stack in the Thanksgiving weekend paper.  “What mom really wants!” and “She will love you for this!” brought out a cynic-dragon from under my maternal skin.

“What makes you an expert on me, Retail Establishment?” I leered back at the ads loudly clamoring for my attention.  “How do you know I need a solar-powered crystal hummingbird with color-changing LEDs?  Do you think a family birthday bracelet made of authentic imitation gems will make my day perfect?”  (I am not making any of this up!)  A box of pink tools won’t make me feel special, either.  I like tools, and I know how to use them.  “Pink handles with a touch of bling” is just pain insulting.

   
Can I let you in on a huge non-retail-friendly secret?  Can I tell you what most moms really and honestly want for Mothers’ Day?  You most likely don’t want to know, and you don’t want the word to get out, because it will not be good for your bottom line.  I’m just an ordinary blogger, however, so my small voice in the vast cyber-sea of com- munication probably won’t make the slightest difference at cash registers this weekend.  But this is my blog, and I have something to say on the subject.

What I want for Mothers’ Day

I want to know I’ve made a difference- that the small and large sacrifices I make are worth it and appreciated.  And I appreciate a small sacrifice on this special holiday, something from the heart, something that costs more than cash.   I’d like to be a little spoiled or pampered on Sunday, but extravagance and over-the-topness is hard to take, especially if Mothers’ Day and my birthday are the only days I know you think of me.   A handmade card scrawled with crayon letters made with chubby fingers trumps the flowery Hallmark $8.50 version hands down, and an FTD vase of 24 long-stemmed roses doesn’t compare with a paper cup of smashed dandelions, even when the giver has long-since grown up.

A slow-pace, free from stress and drama, will make my day sweet.  That probably means we won’t be standing in line at noon for a fancy buffet.  Peanut butter and jelly served to me with an ear-to-ear grin while I have my feet up will be lovely, followed by a walk around the block (to work off the fat in the pbj!) with fun conversation and our happy Border Collie, Lizzie.  And we always make new memories with lots of laughter when we watch a slide show or home video, or take a scrapbook trip into the past.

I am an ordinary girl with simple tastes.  Other moms may enjoy adding to your profit margin, but please understand when you don’t see my family in line at a cash register this weekend.  We’ll be enjoying each other and sharing with my husband’s and my mom how special they are to us.

* My family does VERY well in making my Mothers’ Day special.





The Gauntlet

11 04 2011

The gauntlet begins in eleven days.

By the end of June I shall be tested to the limit of my endurance, completely celebration-ed out.  From April 22 through June 19, we will celebrate my husband’s 54th birthday, Easter, our son’s 25th birthday, my mother-in-law’s 59th wedding anniversary, our 29th wedding anniversary, our daughter-in-law’s 24th birthday, our son’s and daughter-in-law’s 2nd wedding anniversary, Mother’s Day, and my 50th birthday, which is on Fathers’ Day this year.*

Maybe it’s presumption, but this year there will probably be more than one party in my honor for my semi-centennial, adding more events to our overly-full calendar and inches on our middle-aging waists.  And maybe I’m looking at the future through the past, but in previous years by the time we reach my birthday, I’m tired of celebrating.  A day at the library poring over magazines I don’t subscribe to is preferable to one more party.

This string of parties is complicated and hampered by the fact that the party-planning gene got left out of my DNA strand.  And I don’t like cake.

American festivity IS cake.  Birthdays can’t be celebrated without trick candles atop two overly-decorated layers.  Weddings require skyscrapers covered in cascading fondant roses.  Most holidays (thank goodness pumpkin pie reigns on Thanksgiving!) must also have a cake to be properly feted.  In our society celebration just can’t be done properly without cake.

My feeling is why waste half of the party calories on dry floury crumbs, when they could be totally spent on ice cream?  Luscious creamy goodness!  There is no contest!!

Growing up in a large family, I ate any and all sweets (including cake) because my (also party-challenged) mother baked desserts infrequently.  When she discovered the recipe for Cream-Filled Cupcakes, birthdays got way better for both of us.  Since frosting isn’t needed, they were easy to make for a harried mother-of-five, and I got my cream-fix in my cake.

Now in my own family, these two-for-one cupcakes have become our birthday tradition.  I pushed them so hard when our sons were growing up they didn’t have a chance.

Although I’ve never heard any complaints.

—————–

*That leaves our other son’s birthday, my mother’s and mother-in-law’s birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to be spread throughout the other ten months of the year.

Cream-Filled Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

1.  Make chocolate cake mix*, preheat oven according to package directions, and put batter into cupcake papers/pans.
2.  Beat:    8 oz softened cream cheese
3.  Mix in:    1/3 c. sugar
4.  Beat in:    1 egg
5.  Stir in:    1 c. (6 oz.) chocolate chips (and colorful sprinkles if you like)
6.  Drop a teaspoon of cheese mixture into each cupcake batter.
7.  Top with sprinkles.
8.  Bake as package directs.

* I never use more than 2 eggs, even if the box directions call for more.  I also increase the water by 2 or 3T.  This will ensure that the batter isn’t too thick, allowing the cheese to sink to the bottom of the cupcake as it bakes.

These cupcakes are sweet enough without frosting.  The sprinkles and candles are all that’s needed to make them pretty.





Tree Flowers

4 04 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are flowers on the trees.  Not brilliant splashes of color like the crocus in my garden, but deep red bunches, each individual bloom the size of a small pea, covering the ends of every small twig of these trees.  From a distance they might be mistaken for last year’s berries, not fresh growth announcing the birth of a new season after the death of winter.

Their under-stated beauty appeals to me.  While contributing to the cycle of life by eventually producing scads of those twirling helicopter seeds, each one is delicately radiant.  The rich red color that originally attracted me, covers the surface of a solid green base-every one a mini-powerhouse of activity adding to the high pollen count this week no doubt!

There are no showy petals like the tulips will soon wear in order to cajole bees to visit and provide transport for their pollen.  How are the tree-flowers pollinated?  I didn’t see bees on the branches or hear the steady hum that will soon surround our crabapple tree when every branch bursts into bloom.  I wonder if the wind does the work?

Spring winds, full of new warmth when the earth is still cool, blow life back into my soul while touching my cheeks with roses.  They blow away the soggy wetness from the melting snow and spring rains that washed off the filmy dust-dirt of winter, allowing the earth to be new again.

Soon the tree flowers will fall making rusty puddles on the path.  But today they are brilliant against the infinitely blue sky-simple, full of life, and beautiful.

Originally published on my old blogger site, April 2009





Free Disruption

4 11 2010

The tickets were free.  We sat with the main act (and about 100 others) having a conversation before the show.  Nothing is free anymore.  But this hour was – and with no strings attached!  No signing up for email onslaughts or a Facebook group.  These three guys extended themselves and shared their hearts with us.  Their gesture, more than their words, spoke into my soul.

They talked about music, about God, and how we, as worship leaders, take people on a journey that is sacred by disrupting churchi-ness and shaking up pre-conceived stereotypes of who God is.  What they said resonated throughout the room like a rich chord on an old Gibson guitar.  New methods and ideas criss-crossed the audience and bounced from person to person as others shared.  And yet, it still came down to this: the only way to lead someone in worshiping the God of All is to first personally seek Him.  With all that I am, I pursue the Great I Am.  Anything less doesn’t make sense.

As the three guys wrapped up our conversation, my mind wandered to the melee I was about to enter downstairs.  The thumping bass told me that the opening band had already started for the hundreds of fans filling the seats.  I reasoned that spending an hour hearing from three fellow travelers was worth the sacrifice of sitting in a back corner during the concert.  But then, out of nowhere as we stood to leave holding our general admission tickets, an usher in the back announced that if we showed our free passes from the discussion at the door downstairs, the staff would lead us to reserved seating for the concert!

What??  My free pre-show pass entitled me to reserved seating?  (Insert Aflac duck staggering and shaking its head!)

I could make a dozen or more applications with eloquent metaphors, but they would cover grace with kitsch.  Instead, I continue to shake my head in wonder remembering that walk through the rows of seats up to the front.  What an unforgettable way to begin a night of worship!

Jeremy Camp leading us - not too bad for a photo from a phone!

Conversations, a ministry of Integrity Music led by Jeremy Camp, Carlos Whittaker, and John Mark McMillan





Foil Folding

18 10 2010

Today I threw a brick of dried-out, moldy cream cheese away. Again. That happens frequently in this kitchen. Every couple of months I toss another one, barely used, into the trashcan.

To do the math-if I’ve thrown away 6 bricks this year with only about 1/4 used, that’s 4.5 bricks wasted. That means in my 28 years as chief-cook-and-refrigerator-cleaner I’ve thrown away more than 20 packages. That’s TEN POUNDS!! Ten pounds of yummy, gooey cream cheese dried and moldy instead of piled on bagels and raisin bread.

So guess what I did tonight in a flash of inspiration after throwing the latest progressing science experiment in the garbage while toasting some fresh raisin bread? I opened the drawer of plastic containers, found one about the same size as 8 ounces of cream cheese, and plopped in a fresh new brick.

Why did it take me so long to figure out this quick, and potentially thrifty trick? Why have I been stuck in this pattern of trying to fold the foil wrapper up tighter each time, hoping it will keep the cheese fresh… while knowing it wouldn’t?

Isn’t Einstein’s definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results”?

28 years of Major Food Fail!

The frightening part, though, is asking myself what else I continue to do that doesn’t work, simply because that’s the way I’ve always done it. No thought involved, no trouble shooting, just default foil-folding.

This week I’ll be looking with fresh and searching eyes for habits that I continue to practice that don’t work. If you think of any (mine or yours) please leave a comment. I’m trading foil folding for airtight containers.








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