Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jesus is as Close as a Smile

As I was returning from my morning walk, the handicapped bus was in the driveway to pick up a passenger from our complex. The driver is there every weekday morning, and her job can't be easy.

She has to get out, help load an occupied wheelchair onto the lift, and maneuver her charge into a safe spot. There are around eight children in her care, so she has to repeat that routine eight times.

What I notice most about this woman is not her gender. It's not her race. It's not her height, her weight, or her uniform. It's her smile.

She radiates pure joy.

Faced with a difficult job and a lot of responsibility, this woman chooses to respond with one of the brightest, broadest smiles I've ever seen. While she cares for some of God's more fragile children, she doesn't fret, grumble, or even worse, dismiss the job as an inconvenient way to make a living.

She smiles.

How many times have I faced tiny inconveniences with a frown and a whine? How many times have I, when faced with a challenge, responded gracelessly?

This woman, whether or not it's her intention, is spreading Jesus' message of Love to everyone she meets.

And it's as simple as a smile.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not. Even Sorrel.

I'm betting that Martha didn't waste anything. Whether preparing dinner for Lazerus or for a room filled with guests, she probably knew how to add just the right spice or use the perfect cooking method to make old figs taste yummy.

Using everything we're given is good stewardship, and that includes the surprise veggie I received in my Abundant Harvest Organics delivery this weekend.

Sorrel. Isn't that something horses eat?  The enclosed newsletter advised to use it sooner than later. Having thrown away an embarrassing amount of rotted fruits and vegetables in my time, I decided to get off my butt and figure out a way to cook these pretty leaves before they went bad.

The warnings almost scared me off, especially the comparison of heated sorrel to cowpies. (The color changes during the cooking process, and not in a good way.)  Hubby has his limits, so I decided soup might make the most appetizing presentation.

I played with an online recipe and here is what I came up with. Though the soup looks dark green, it has a surprisingly light, lemony flavor.

3 cups of chicken broth
1 large bunch of sorrel, tough stems removed (And wash carefully! There were chunks of dirt hidden in the leaves!)
1 Potato, diced
1 handful of rice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup of milk

First, I brought the chicken broth, sorrel and potato to a boil and let it simmer until the potato was cooked.
Next, using an immersion blender, I ground everything up.
I added a handful of rice and simmered until cooked. You must stir occasionally.
I added milk, salt and pepper and heated through.

I served it with crushed tortilla chips sprinkled over the top, and it was yum!

Now I have to figure out what to do with the surplus of nectarines! Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yes, Virginia. God DOES Speak Through Mystery Authors!

I was having a low period. I call them "funks". It's when everything presses in and the world begins to look dark and gloomy. You've probably been there. It's the land of extremes, filled with NEVER, ALWAYS, EVERY and NONE.

My eyeballs were firmly fixed on my problems without a glance to spare for God. Not a good place to be.

Fortunately, I was still able to muster up the interest to read, and I picked up my copy of Marilyn Meredith's BEARS WITH US to delve into the lives of happier people embroiled in murder. Deputy Tempe Crabtree solves the crimes; her husband, Hutch, a minister, provides the moral support.

I wasn't even suspicious when Hutch spoke about preparing his sermon. I need to pray first to find out what message the Lord would like me to bring to the congregation. Why would I imagine that this fictional pastor's congregation would include me, the reader?

And then when Hutch got excited and said I know exactly what I'll be preaching about tomorrow. It's amazing how the Lord guides me to what he wants me to bring to the congregation I still didn't see it coming. But then I got to THE PAGE.

The line jumped out at me. Hutch's sermon was titled Letting God Handle Your Problems.

Remember when your brother-sister-best friend would rap on your forehead to get your attention? God rapped on mine with gentle, loving knuckles.

"Hello-o-o-o. Did you get My point? Do you want Me to repeat it?"

I must have, because I read the line again, and the gloomy mist lifted.

When we try to handle our own problems, to retain control, that's when we take a trip to downer-land. It's that human habit of trying to claim credit, of trying to lay out a strategy that doesn't include God.

He's so much bigger than us. He's omnipotent. He can do anything. It's pretty arrogant not to let Him guide us, like when your four-year-old insists on making breakfast and concocts an inedible mess. And we're just as proud of our results as that child, though they lead us farther from Him. It's not until we get food poisoning from the under-cooked eggs that we finally turn to Him and say, "Help!"

So, yes, Virginia, God does speak through mystery authors. He speaks through everything, if only we would listen.