Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Flipping the Pancakes

I made potato pancakes for lunch.
They are basically two ingredients: mashed potatoes and eggs.
Garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
I've struggled with making them right.
My dad always made them for me, and I loved them.
The first time I tried to do it on my own, as a married woman,
I added milk.
Wondered why they were wrong.

I did okay today.
They're funny things, though.
When you first mix them up, they're so sloppy.
I slap a spoonful onto the frying pan in butter, and then wait and watch.
I always try to flip it before it's ready.
It falls apart.
Half flips, half doesn't.
I use the pancake turner to pat the entire thing back into a circle
and wait longer.

More heat, more pressure, and it becomes one.
I slide the turner underneath, and it holds together.
Moves as one.
Less breaks off to do its own thing.

As I cooked them today, I thought about marriage.
These two ingredients forming one thing.
The heat and the pressure and the time
changing us from an incoherent mass that falls apart
when we try to work together
into something that moves as one,
each part a complement to the other.

Perhaps it occurred to me because of a line from our wedding vows:
we promised to adhere to one another.
Our pastor thought that a funny phrase,
and made a joke about our first kiss.
But I think it's a beautiful turn of words.

And I hope my soul is melding just as surely to the Lord's.
Growing more and more able to move when He moves.
To hold fast and remain.
To be mixed together with Him in such a way
that I am His, and He is mine, and we are one.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It Wasn't You

"So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: 
and He hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, 
and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."
Genesis 45:8

We forget that God can and will use the sinful actions and animosity of rivals
to further His plan in our lives.
That the angry brother, driven by jealousy,
can still be subject to God's control.
It doesn't excuse the sin to acknowledge the sovereignty.
God moves even through conflict and unhappiness and dysfunctional families.
In every one of the families of the patriarchs, there are issues.
The extra women. Hagar. Zilpah. Bilhah.
There are brothers at war.
Ishmael against Isaac. Esau against Jacob.
The sons of the handmaids against Joseph.

There are favorites played, between wives and between sons.
Marital strife -- even between Isaac and Rebekah,
who had no extras in their marriage.
But the children caused conflict between them.
Years of unsettled wandering and infertility.

And a Promise that did not fail.
A future and a hope that is still working in their children.
Being named the friend of God.  
Governed by God.  
The father of faith.
The one the nation is named for.

"It was not you who sent me here," Abraham's great-grandson said.
"It was God."

Perhaps he had taken to heart
how God had moved and worked in his great-grandfather's family.
His grandfather's family.
His father's family.
He had moved them through conflict and animosity --
sometimes earned, and sometimes unmerited.
But always directed.

The conniving father-in-law.
The disdainful household help.
The jealous step-brother.
The fighting wives.
The cheating employer.
The murderous brothers.
All of them had been ultimately fitted into the intended will of God
and the Promise He kept promising them.

"And we know that to them that love God 
all things work together for good, 
even to them that are called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Musings on the Social Network

I am thinking about what edifies others,
instead of draining them of their energy and motivation
with complaints and problems.
Giving thanks.
When my eyes are scanning for what to thank Him for,
instead of what bothers me, what I don't like,
how I've been wronged today, how things aren't meeting my expectations and desires,
it sends out ripples of good through my own heart and mind, and into the community.

But the opposite is also true.
Scanning for negatives to complain about, for faults in others,
for what to be unhappy about,
creates unhappiness first in me, and spreads to others.
I have a child prone to "I don't like..."
For some time, my response to these comments has been,
"What DO you like?"
It's funny how it changes things to look for the good instead of the bad.

So, I ask you today: what do you like?
What can you thank God for?
What is praiseworthy today?

I love quiet mornings with my coffee and my Bible and my husband by the fire.
My sons came down this morning
and told me they had picked up their room without being asked.
And although there is much busyness getting ready for Christmas just now,
I get to spend time doing some shopping with a friend, instead of facing the madness alone.

Ah, and friends. Don't they make you smile just by existing?
What a gift that God gives them to us, that He sets the lonely in families,
and makes us into one in Christ.
And now it's YOUR turn.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Second and First

I took my son to his second piano lesson today.
Second is a key word to what follows.
His teacher seemed quite pleased with his ability to hear the music.
I do not play the piano, although a number of people in my family do.
I brought a book along, intending to read.
But I kept being distracted by overheard reminders
to sit with a strong back,
and to keep his hand positioned in a hill, and not a valley.
In spite of the repetition of these reminders,
it was obvious she was pleased with his musical inclination.

His teacher taught him a new warm up.
He played it, and then asked her
if he could show her something it reminded him of.
"Yes, of course."
He haltingly worked out a tune, faltering a little at first,
and then plainly resolving into It Is Well With My Soul.

Scenes from my uncle's house, while he lay very sick
with his parents and siblings around him singing this came to mind.
Laughter through tears, and joy in sorrow.
A few months later, they were singing my Grandma home,
with the same uncle brought in through video phone calls.
So many songs of faith and hope in pain and death.
When I recognized the music, I cried.

I do not know
what parents usually experience with their children's piano lessons.
This is my first time.
But my son stuns me.
As we got into the car to leave, I said,
"I've never heard you play that one before."
"Well, that's the first time I ever played it, Mom. That's why it wasn't right."
The first time you ever played it, it was nearly in a flash of inspiration
from hearing a short warm-up exercise?
Of course.
"Hey, next time pick something I can hear without crying."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Burning Down The Forest

My husband and I were out on a date once, holding hands in a Chipotle line
when I spotted someone we knew but hadn't seen in awhile
who was looking at me with horror on his face.
Honestly, he looked like he wanted to burn me up.
I urged my husband to go over and say 'hi' while I kept our place in line.
It turns out the man hadn't recognized my husband,
whose hair was significantly changed from our last meeting,
and was sure I was an adulteress.
I wonder what he would have told people about me
if he hadn't been set straight with a tiny bit more information.

Paul said not to accept an accusation against an elder
except on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
Something about that instruction makes it apparent
that the accusations are more numerous than the realities.
And testimony is not repetition.
It doesn't mean if more than one person is gossiping about it, it's valid.
It's two or more sources of eyewitness accounts.

We often hear one person's story, and get angry.
But if we wait for the next side, things become a lot clearer,
and the anger is misplaced.
I've done that myself.
They say with age comes wisdom. (We can always hope so, anyway.)
I've begun stalling judgment when I hear something outrageous.
Often enough, a little more information clears it up.
Sometimes the rumor really does have something to it.
But often, someone 'saw' something that they were completely mistaken in.
Or they heard someone else's report that was mistaken.
Best not to pass that lie on, even if you think it's true.

If you don't have something nice to say,
say it softly in a back room?
Or bite your tongue until it bleeds.
Avoid lighting a fire that burns down a forest if it serves no good purpose.

Did someone tell you something mean about someone else?
Help it die, instead of breathing life into it.