Life, Philosophy and Candy Crush

Let me introduce to you my lovely husband David as guest post today. Lover of all things intellectual and always up for a good round of candy crush I love this man with all my heart.  This topic is something we have long discussed into the wee nights and bleary eyed over morning coffee so it touched me deeply to see these thoughts be set to pen. Enjoy and sojourn on!

The Candy Crush Chronicles

Life, Philosophy and Candy Crush

 

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When alas you are all out of Hope…

 Know Thyself.  There is no greater aphorism nor quest one could endeavor.  Socrates obsessed to this end and I in turn am left only with thoughts and musings on Candy Crush (now referred to as The Game, much of the way Thomas referred to Aristotle, The Philosopher). What can one learn through navigating its sweet waters?  I must confess, for me it started out as a simple (desperate) plea to escape the throws of life.  Actually I believe my wife first introduced it to me, “the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it (Gen. 3:6-7). Today one motto echoes through the halls of our home, “such is candy crush.”  A life lived fully is a life that has experienced the blows (or bombs) and the accolades (boasting one’s score across the world via Facebook) of The Game, for those prudent types this post may not be for you, you really won’t understand.

As this is my first reflection waxing eloquent on The Game I thought it appropriate to feature the element I most enjoy.  Without a doubt, The Game offers much more than people seem to realize.  It can if pondered long enough, account for what the Germans construct as a type of Weltanschauung (a lens to view the world). 

The Game could get downright ugly.  Throw equality out the window, (whoever programed these diabolical algorithms anyway) it is a fact of life that some get dealt a shoddy hand.  So we start off behind the eight ball trying to make the most of the situation and we endure, we persevere, we will not let it beat us (though it often does), we’re wearing thin, but we will carry on to the end and then it happens.  In the most unlikely of moments, it happens (did I mention I play for this).  The number of moves continues to tick away, much like stones under rushing water and we still have those jellies to contend.  Forget about the three stars, though it is much sweeter when it happens this way, I am on my last life, my last leg, last move, no room for error, back’s against the wall and it happens.  The light breaks through; I see clearly, I can breath again. “Sugar Crush” and all is well.  It didn’t have to end this way, many times it doesn’t (and I mean many) but it did. 

What astonishes me most is that it had nothing to do with my cleverness, stratagem, or charm, it just was.  Tolkien calls it “eucatastrophe” and it is an important lesson we must all learn.  When all hope fails, the Hope bringer trespasses into the story.  Have you seen this?  It happens quite often if you know how to see.  To the Greeks muthos (myth) was a true story, a story that unveils the true origin of the world and human beings.  We’ve got it all wrong when we try to dispel it.  Stories like Sleeping Beauty, Frodo and Sam, Edmund and Eustace really do happen.  But Tolkien says,  “The Resurrection was the greatest ‘eucatastrophe’ possible in the greatest Fairy Story — and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.”  The best part about the Fairy Tale is that we are living it.  Christ turned to Satan when all was lost, abducted his greatest weapon and stung him at high noon. We were not present, but we are the beneficiary’s. 

So when all is said and done there is Hope in this madness, there is a telos to life and this is something all great philosophers boast.  Though we are hurling towards an unavoidable collision course with Andromeda or dehydration as the sun’s luminosity grows, I propose a “eucatastrophe” will pluck us up long before, though I am unclear how this will happen, I imagine it will be dark and that we will be at our wits end.  Then he will break through, the rightful King (not to be mistaken for King Ltd., the manufacture of Candy Crush, though very ironic) shall return.  The Game may be quite aeviternal (has anyone managed to beat this endless game yet?), but so are we the Hope Filled.

By David Euans

Flakes, Freeing of Hands and Oven Fried Chicken

Just. One. Flake… fluffy and sparkling, spinning through the cosmos… and I will know I can dance and twirl through this grey day; that transformation is on it’s way.  That this moment of my existence isn’t what defines me.

And there they came…this army of white and although there may not be a trace of them left at morning light this heart has been lifted God expectant. Mother’s oven baked chicken and gravy with mashed potatoes simmering on the stove and our help girl reminding what the teacher says every day:

Hands free…

Eyes on me…

Quiet…

Be still…

Listen…

Ahh, the secret I’ve been missing all day. I pull open the door to mountains shrouded in fog, suck in deep air and free…free these hands towards heaven reaching for grace arriving just in time.

Mom’s Oven Fried Chicken

3 lbs chicken leg quarters soaked overnight (or a few hours) in salt water

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

Salt

Pepper

Seasoned Salt (I used Trader Joes)

Olive oil

Pull off any skin from chicken pieces and discard.  Rinse with water and pat dry with paper towel.  Heat 1/2″ oil in skillet (I love my cast iron) until very hot.  Season chicken to taste with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour and place in oil (take care! I have burned myself from the oil splashing). Sprinkle with the seasoned salt.  Brown each side and place in a 9X13 pan.  Bake at 350 uncovered for hour to an hour and a half until a nice golden brown and meat is pulling away from the bone.

Pan Gravy

In the same skillet used to brown chicken, remove all but 2-3 Tbl oil. Turn heat on medium.  Add 1/4 cup flour.  Stir to scrape any drippings from the pan into the gravy.  Add 1 1/2 cup of water and 3 tsp. or more of bouillon (I love the brand: Better Than Bouillon Chicken flavor) and let simmer while stirring to the correct thickness.  You can always add more water if too thick or let simmer longer. Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and voila! A wonderful home cooked meal for a cold night in waiting for snow 🙂

oven fried chicken

 

 

Mommy, I see God

After a day like this, I stumble into bedtime cuddles to find my seven year old dream girl scribbling worship and a mother’s heart can melt when the child that grew within, stretching skin thin, stretches this heart wide silencing the enemy with praise. We kneel for prayers and I think I really can see God in all of this for truth will always triumph in the end.I see god blog

From the mouth of children and infants you have founded strength
on account of your enemies,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.  ~Psalm 8:2 ~

When You Just Can’t Feel Anything

I woke to all this unbridled beauty and felt nothing.

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What ordinarily takes the breath away lays frozen white just like this spirit gripped in the vice of cruel meds and nothing will shake it, not even the most beautiful feathery white form of precipitation that brings heart palpitations with its glory. How do you praise and thank when there is no feeling? When a shadow of joy is nowhere to be found? When prednisone is hitting the system, the spouse, the children, the hamster and all others just happening into my messy day and I am just doing my best to breathe?

I open The Book searching, asking questions of ‘where are you God’ because even that is a sign of life hidden deep inside, the beginning of hope about to bloom because he promises us the God hunters that if we seek for Him, we will find him and he is not far off. I find him here between the pages of Psalm 22….a much needed love letter delivered just in time:

   He has never let you down,
    never looked the other way
    when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
    he has been right there, listening.

He is listening to every painful sigh, to the silent pleas  for ‘help’, to this weary heart wondering how nine months of this will ever be over and will anyone still love me in the end? The God who was my midwife at birth, who handed me over into my mother’s arms, is still the God present, active, alive, ever near.

Determined to be a God hunter of this day I pull on boots and scarves, gloves and coat to wander out into the majestic world of white and this friend, is courage, because underneath all these layers all I really want to do is hibernate and eat this all day long. But something in my spirit says ‘go’ because experience has taught there is treasure found in surrendering to the moment for we walk by faith when we are blinded by all that would consume. We leave space for God to do his work, to show up in the impossible. Perhaps these pauses in our lives are the very places God is doing the deepest work of the heart.

I round a corner in the dark wood, beauty envelopes and this soul smiles as rays of light shine down diamonds sparkling.

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When your new year already feels old…

She says it, this friend over lunch, and I’ve lived it, how January isn’t half spent and all the resolutions a complete bust! A failure less than ten days into the new year. And it’s enough to give up, to scream for a do-over and stay under bed covers for a week because you are not lying to yourself that each day of the new year will start to feel a little old and more like ground hog’s day every day of your life.

But then there’s this seed of sanity that’s been germinating, that suggests we are more than the lists we cross off, the expectations we fall short of, the goals tossed to the winter wind and I remember this wise woman who’s been there before and done it again. She’s saying to those listening, desperate for what to do with up ended lives, that when the way isn’t clear, the present murky, what we really need is to just do the next right thing. Lean into the spirit’s nudge and simply feed the family, comfort a hurting heart, take a nap, pour a cup warm, pay the bills….  It’s in doing the little “next right things” that a soul learns it’s not so much about the big picture, but about being faithful in the small.  It’s the courageous ones who face day’s drudgery focused on obedience not results; who know that every artist paints a masterpiece one small stroke at a time.  Oh friend, I know too well the days stuck painting away the tedious landscape strokes that set the background of life.  The picking up one more sock unmatched, scraping pots clean and the never-ending laundry that piles. I’d rather play for the crowd, do that which would be noticed…applauded. Be the perfect model mom and Christian wife. To seek fame instead of humility.  To compare and contrast haves with the have-nots.

I also know that emptiness sets in when stage lights go dark and I am left with the unseen, unremarkable, unnoticed and it’s then one comes to realize that the stuff of life is composed of the insignificant and that as we are faithful in the next right tasks we hear “well done” from our Father who sees each plodding step forward. He is cheering us on with celebrations and affirmation along the way, joy awaiting with each new hurdle. Haven’t arrived yet? That’s ok…me  either. But let’s keep walking this journey, baby steps friend, and we can rest assured that just like the weak are strong, the poor rich in the kingdom of God, he has greater and bigger offerings in store for us the trustworthy managers over the seemingly trivial. So for now, and perhaps until glory, my New Years resolution?

Faithful in the small.

Self care and Molasses Bran Muffins

molasses bran muffins

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates

Self care in this home has become as important as soul care.  That’s how I found myself stumbling through pages in cyber space in search of a healthy muffin recipe (*’cause we all know that most muffins are just ugly cupcakes*) to use up the remaining raisin bran cereal crumbling at the bag’s bottom. It’s elusive at times…this attempting to find something that benefits yourself while pleasing every family member small to big. Well I am pleased to say that this one fit the bill with zero added sugar.  Now this mamma is pretty happy while doing my best to disguise joy’s flood so not one would ever know just how healthy these are. SO, if you find me clapping hands behind my back and performing pirouettes in closets, please don’t let my secret out of the bag…at least not that there are raisins hidden in puffs of delightful deliciousness. Excuse me while I scarf one more down with a beautiful cup warmed by green tea.

Molasses Bran Muffins

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg beaten

2 tbl oil

2 1/2 cups raisin bran cereal

1 tsp. vanilla flavoring

Stir all together in a bowl. Fill paper muffin liners 3/4 way full.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 min until the top bounces back slightly when touched.  Enjoy!

Living a God Expectant Life

Day dawns. First day with a name for this condition incubating: cryptogenic organizing pneumonia. It’s been there all along brooding and we’ve been searching and here with one test it’s been found and there’s relief in finally knowing and a spilling of grief as we peer into the next nine months of hard treatment.  Strange how a name can upside-down your life and I stumble into another doctors office aware that without the feeding of the Word this soul will whither dry. It’s then I read this and the jolt’s so strong I can barely breathe.  I read it again to see if it really says what my heart hears.

Bilious and bloated, they gas,
    “God is gone.”
Their words are poison gas,
    fouling the air; they poison
Rivers and skies;
    thistles are their cash crop.

God sticks his head out of heaven.
    He looks around.
He’s looking for someone not stupid—
    one man, even, God-expectant,
    just one God-ready woman.

 He comes up empty. A string
    of zeros. Useless, unshepherded
Sheep, taking turns pretending
    to be Shepherd.
The ninety and nine
    follow their fellow.

Don’t they know anything,
    all these impostors?
Don’t they know
    they can’t get away with this—
Treating people like a fast-food meal
    over which they’re too busy to pray?

Night is coming for them, and nightmares,
    for God takes the side of victims.
Do you think you can mess
    with the dreams of the poor?
You can’t, for God
    makes their dreams come true.

Is there anyone around to save Israel?
    Yes. God is around; God turns life around.
Turned-around Jacob skips rope,
    turned-around Israel sings laughter. ~Psalm 14 (The Message)

Does He come up empty in searching for me? Am I the one God expectant, God ready? For as soon as I believe God is gone and raise the god of self instead I cease to be God expectant and the crop of my life becomes thorns and thistles.  I want to be this Jacob, this Israel who’s been turned around.  Who sings laughter in the face of frightening news and dull days of drudgery. Who unearths beauty in pain and follows the Shepherd instead of following self because I’ve known too many times the friends fear and anxiety who leach dry when trying to find my own way, too busy to breathe and call out for the God who is there in all of this jumbled mess.

She runs in this Help Girl, bursting through thoughts to say there’s a rainbow outside.  It’s been shades of grey for days and the sun has finally peeled back the clouds and there is this glorious rainbow a reminder of the promise, a promise He whispered during the unpacking and settling in, something I dared not breathe ’till now but treasured close to the heart. This whispering of hope and new beginnings, of hidden gifts in 2014 and I had grasped it then and I grasp it again because I so quickly turn from God ready to self ready and I don’t want to forfeit it this time. They say you can’t see God and live and this is truth telling because when you have seen Peniel you cease to be the one you were.

“…for Jacob did see God face to face, and he did die- so profound a death that God gave him a new name. ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Isreal.” ~Oswald Chambers

In all the disillusionment and disappointment, grappling…the shattering of plans, the wrestling with God and not letting go until he blesses, there is  transformation. He makes new, he gives a new name… a new identity. Turned around Jacob skips rope, turned around Israel sings laughter and this turned around heart is God expectant.

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Heaven’s Harp

There she blew in…this lady with a harp in the middle of medical crisis’ amid the hospital flurry of nurses and doctors and everything in between.  And for us, the musicians with troubled children and a lung of mine filled with pain, we caught smiles and knew that this was a breath of heaven; the hidden gift of the day. I knew it would be found if only we looked, so on the rush to the place where God works miracles through hands and feet made of flesh and bone with stethoscopes hanging ’round necks, we kept our eyes peeled for reminders that God was in this, he is with us, the great I AM, for isn’t every fear a result of forgetting that he is present? Only never in a million years did we expect it would be a harp (*God the best gift giver…always surprising, always knowing just what we need*), or a lady who loved kids heading to the cancer ward to play for souls on the brink of life and death, who drew near to us instead and stayed and played and gave mini lessons to small fingers. And this mother’s heart brimmed as I saw those around begin to breathe easier and laugh and dare to try something new and I thought about Saul in the Bible who called for harps when he was filled with anxiety and I nod knowing why.  My name was called, paperwork filled out, pictures of lungs taken…the same lungs that the Maker of life breathed air into several decades ago that I am in this moment desperately clinging to for each breath in and out, and as I find my way back to my seat, wafting through the air the harpist plays a song of the ages:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that thou art; Thou my best thought by day or by night, waking or sleeping thy presence my light.

My soul lifts, a bounce returns to the step and I find my heart saying yes, yes to all he has for me in this journey for his presence is my light, lighting the way for all my todays and tomorrows. I breathe deep air and I smile for this time the pain is gone.

When Anxiety Becomes the Blanket

Unraveled.

He says it as an observation and I feel it, this coming undone, seams of my life frayed fragile all before the day’s begun. Little people demanding and ignoring what they’ve been taught over breakfast is the final undoing of this mother and I wear guilt and shame like it’s my identity. Then there’s anxiety the covering of each hour, the lens from which all other thoughts and actions filter. All too familiar it slips by incognito and without a word the enemy becomes a friend inviting the uninvited and grief mixes and anger spills. Ed Welch touches on this in Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest:

“You have been living in a war zone your entire life. At first you noticed every gunshot. After a while the mayhem blends in with the rustle of the trees, the TV, and the children playing in the other room. Fear gradually became the background noise of everyday life.”

So I eat chocolate and play out scenarios in this raw weary head and pour cups warm in hopes of bringing some sense of normal, some sense that says I am in control, that I can have my cake and eat it too. It isn’t until he comes, this strong frame of a husband lavishing love over my stooping heart scooping me in warm arms whispering prayers of blessing and pleas for aid that mercy draws near for “God has had it with the proud but takes delight in just plain people” (1 Peter 5:5); people who have realized that it’s not what they want but what the Father has for them and anything that is given out of love is the best there is to find. Ahhh, this twisted flesh always bites the hook! And in it’s default of self, the ugly lies spiral spirits into a black hole that will forever take one to a place gracelessness.

Confession a balm for the soul a telling of truth, who I am not and who God is. A willingness to pry open my hands and release fear, anxiety…everything I am not in control of, in exchange for grace, mercy, love…all good gifts from the Father.  I am laid open to listen, to obey and in this space for just this moment I am aware that there is no need to find a peddling technique to get what I want from God for I forget that he knows what I need before I even ask it.  So I simply nod, these fists relaxing into open hands and whisper the prayer I’ve been praying since a pig tailed girl:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.  ~Matthew 6:9-13 the Message