Remade to Remember

She pulls out the dusty albums hidden under stacks and stacks of photographs of the years each begging a story, and a smile comes to the lips as fingers beginning to show their age thumb through pages. It’s been fourteen years, this thing called time slipping by like sand in a glass. And it’s been glorious and tears have gushed and through it all it’s been God’s grace to knit two hearts, two lives beautifully into this thing we call one flesh.

The candles come out, along with table cloth and china and she sets the table all the while tripping over Legos and sticks and baby dolls scattered among books. How the years have changed and multiplied this thing called love. She grabs garden clippers and dances out the door to the CD player rendering the same song she danced with her beloved groom, and she heads to the field across the way gathering bouquets of summer’s first wild flowers little man a shadow all the while.

It’s funny how some things never change, this love for bottles filled with flowers, flickering light in the darkening room, plates heaped high with breakfast goodness at night and these three little faces beaming at a couple now known as mom and dad hanging on every little detail from that day long ago. They clink glasses and celebrate love into the evening cutting into cake remade to remember and she’s beaming and leaking tears all in one.

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Hours later, kids long tucked in tight, she hands him the card, the one she lost last year but found just in time for tonight. Sometimes it’s in the getting lost we actually find ourselves and she knows this better than ever after the past year of stumbling in the dark. And when it’s dark you need someone holding the light, picking up the pieces letting you know it’s going to be ok because we’re in this together and two are stronger than one. Their vows have been tested…in sickness and in health…richer or poorer and been found strong in the One holding them together. They embrace, the journey only beginning, this blooming and blazing a trail together, striding into the future.

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Italian Cream Wedding Cake

1 box white cake mix (I love Betty Crocker super moist white cake mix)

1 1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 TBL almond flavoring

Heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour bottoms and sides of two 9″ round pans.

In a mixing bowl beat all ingredients together on medium speed for two minutes. Divide batter in two and pour into pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake bounces back in the middle when you tap it. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting.

Italian Cream Frosting

1 cup butter flavored shortening

3-4 cups powdered sugar

2-4 tsp. almond flavoring (or more or less to taste)

half and half to thin frosting

Beat ingredients together in a bowl adding cream as you go in teaspoon increments until it is thin enough to frost. Beat until fluffy for several minutes. Place one cake round on platter. Spread frosting between and top with the second layer of cake. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting.

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A Prayer As You Send Your Child Off For Testing

imageAs these ones we’ve born, we’ve carried and cried over and sung songs into the night to still their racing hearts; as they pick up pen and pencil, as the screen stares and questions emerge be their strength. Grace them with your presence.  May they collect all their thoughts in you, taking each one captive to the truth that they are more than the scores of a test. That character and praising lives and hearts won for you are what really matters. That it’s not performance that wins your love, because that road will only lead to bloody bruises and broken hearts with trying and failing again and again for perfection, but rather your grace that covers and completes and puts lives back together as all the pieces are laid before you. Remind them they are loved, more valuable than gold, that every hair on their head is numbered by the God who formed each intricate part of their precious bodies.  Give them courage to leap into the unknown because failure is just another opportunity for redemption and you are the God of second chances. Still their minds on you the Shepherd of all lost and weary and stumbling blind sheep.

Excuse Me While I Have Another Helping

Some days there are no words, or stories or songs…just recipes.  Today’s one of those days. This one goes all the way back to childhood where over smoky bonfires and barbecue Mom would serve up steaming spoonfuls of this goodness and the next day turn the left overs into an amazing cold salad. There is nothing not to love about this dish and it’s impossible to mess it up…and the perfect addition to any picnic I might add…so excuse me while I go have another helping.

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Two Way Brown Rice and Lentils

3/4 cup green lentils

1/2 cup brown rice

1 medium onion chopped

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp thyme

1 clove minced garlic

3 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth

dash salt

Preheat oven to 300. Put all ingredients in a casserole dish and give a quick stir. Cover and bake for 2 hours. Serve warm or cool to turn into your cold salad.

For the salad add your favorite chopped vegetables. I love cucumber, tomato, carrots, celery, cooked and cubed sweet potatoes. Toss in feta cheese.

For the dressing you can use your favorite store bought Italian dressing or you can make your own vinaigrette. I take 2 cups of the lentils and rice, add vegetables and feta tossing it with 2 TBL red wine vinegar and 1 TBL vegetable oil with a touch of salt to taste. You can enjoy this salad straight up or sandwich it in a pita or tortilla but be prepared for friends to ask for seconds!

For Days When You Stumble More Than You Stand

Today was a day of stumbling more than standing. Of wobbling through minefields in conversations and second guessing every single word and making calls of apologies long after friends parted. A day of not being sure of much. Of hearing little more than noise and enough of it can make one nauseous this clamoring for sanity—silence! Before long the internal quarreling builds enough tension and one feels alone in a sea of faces, insignificant, a blubbering fool, a complete failure. And yet as the last glow from the sunset slips behind the western mountains there are sweet whispers of truth and I’m held fast in a love eternal not dependent on performance but on his presence, not on merit but on mercy, not on a life filled with fanfare but one lived ever aware of His forgiveness. So I drink deep and know that with the light of dawn there are fresh mercies, new grace, waiting to wake the day.

He forgives your sins—every one…God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet…God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. ~Psalm 103

Faith, Farms and Pots of Gold

She says it as I’m spooning up soup and slicing bread hot from the oven how when she’s taking a shower or sitting tidy in church, when there’s a moment of quiet at school and she doesn’t know what to pray she prays for me. That someday I’ll be whole and well and we can all move onto that farm and get the chickens and dogs and ponies she’s always wanted and they won’t make me sick and we can homeschool so she can teach the animals. She’s grinning as she’s dreaming clutching that doll of hers that she can make sound like a full grown baby at a seconds notice, her front teeth still too large, for her head’s still growing and there’s more sunshine in her face when she smiles then on a sunny day. There’s nothing that can send a lump to the throat and make this Momma’s heart swell than hearing the faith of a child and I blush peeking into this intimate window of a soul enlarging for even now at the tender year of eight she’s learning what it means to wait expectantly…to wait cheerfully. So I let down my guard of “what ifs” and “not possibles” that accumulate over the course of a few decades snarled with bumps and bruises, and we slurp bowls warm and butter bread thick and paint the picture of country life without allergies and asthma and cryptogenic organizing pneumonia and I can almost taste it, this promise of a new life, a fresh start, all from the mouth of a babe.

And there on the table in the middle of all this babble are these little pots of gold at the end of the rainbow splashing sunshine all wild with life.

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From Fear to Faith

Lord when all would consume and shake this being to the core, give courage to move from fear to faith. In you I find safety; a quiet haven for this spirit to rest from struggling and striving and serving little mouths…and hands…and feet. With you I can breathe in, exhale out, bare my soul to its depths and know I am still loved.

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Your love covers warm like clouds blanket the sky and I am held tight in and through the unknown for nothing is hidden from your sight. Even as darkness comes you are the light that pierces bringing hope, the promise that you are still near.  And where you are, fear has no home.

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He Gives and He Takes

mountain springWatching these mountains burst forth with life and thinking about how God gives and God takes but His name is ALWAYS blessed and in the coming and going of seasons…outward and inward…we need to remember THIS:

“Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert.” Is 43:19

For it is all too easy to get comfortable and want to stay put all the while forgetting that part of moving beyond our comfort zone is embracing the gifts present in the here, the now, the NEW! Yes, it maybe scary, and it maybe different and it may not look at all like we thought or wanted but it is being bestowed on us by a God who in the giving and the taking always blesses. So embrace this season friend! Wherever you find yourself lean into it and live fully, live joyfully, live gratefully a life overflowing in God praise.