Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seeing God on the Dark Days

My heart is heavy today for friends who have known deep loss.  It was on this day that sweet Sam went to be with Jesus.  He was a little boy with the biggest smile I've ever seen and the ability to teach all in his presence about the joy of life despite his lack of speech.  "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young," 1 Timothy 4:12 says, "But set an example for the believers."  Teach in his short years of life Sammy surely did, and those of us who were privileged to know him are better for it.

Mixed emotion bears tentacles in my being.  I'm grateful for the dreams this little boy inspired in my own heart.  Surely his legacy has transformed my life, giving me courage in places I will one day share with you.  Yet, I'm sad for the void his loss leaves behind, especially for his family who daily misses those huge smiles.

Loss jars us all at one point or another.  We say goodbye to people.  We say goodbye to dreams.  We say goodbye to the life we envisioned ourselves to lead.  Sunny, humid days suddenly feel dark and heavy.  And this God that promises we will walk through fire but not be burned (Isaiah 43:2) seems quiet and even absent if we don't choose to mentally stake claim in His promised goodness when emotions don't follow.

My trip to Lewis was only to get two wide ruled notebooks to complete the first grade supply list.  After getting the rest of their items my girls were excitedly labeling their things when this need became known and once little kids are on fire with a task you simply can't leave it incomplete.  At least not with my girls.  So, I went to the nearest store because the Tiny Tot was beyond her nap time and breakdown was on the horizon.  I was admittedly in "get in, get out" mode when I saw it

And a teary sheen covered my eyes.  A frog.  A bike.  Hope.  Today.

God showed up in a frog, again.  Fully Relying On God made frogs beloved in Sam's family.  In Sammy's days here and earth and since he has gone to be with Jesus frogs have decorated his family's home and life as reminder of God's presence and love on the good days and the bad.

Slow down, I'm right here in the midst of this loving you tight, God murmurs.

And even on our dark days our eyes can see the light.  Because this God who says we'll have valleys doesn't leave us in the details of dreary hours. 

Slow down, open your eyes, & jump on the back of the tandem bike.  Pedal on even when your soul is ragged worn, my friends,

Because this is only a piece of His glorious unfolding.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Planting, Watering, & the Servant Life {What I Want My Girls to Know about Married Love}

The girls asked me how we would celebrate this anniversary.  Charlie had the day off.  In their minds, the possibilities ran endless.

And I suppose they did.

But I woke up next to a man who values the work of doing life together more than the fleeting joy that comes with throwing money to the wind for temporary smiles.  Remember this, girls, a real man isn’t about temporal highs that catch your emotions but die a quick death.  A man of God will seek to grow roots deep, building the kind of memories that sustain through life.

As the sun peaked, Grace and Hannah opened our door balancing a surprise breakfast in bed on a cookie pan.  Two bowls of cereal, freshly made coffee (complete with creamer), a handmade card, and flower lie on top.  It was the best start to an anniversary we’ve ever experienced.

When we started life together they were but a dream.  Imagining how children would bless us couldn’t hold a candle to the reality of how they would.  Or how they try, test, and exhaust us.  Certainly they’ve made our everyday richer and our love for life together more appreciated.  A busy life that demands effort to keep conversation and focus on our marriage first.

I was just making my way into the kitchen to start lunch when my man whisked me into dance to Ronan Keeting’s “When You Say Nothing at All.”  It was our first dance as Mr. and Mrs.  We danced through that song easily that night on imaginings of life ahead.  Now we danced with reverence, giving thanks to God that through the sickness and health, richer and poorer, and stuff of life we still desire to choose each other every day. 

“I’m going to plant those hydrangeas on the side of the house,” he tells me.

And he begins the work.  Pulling weeds of bushes now dead, moving rock to create a new space.  Hours are invested in “our” project even though my contribution amounts only to shopping for one more and watering what has been newly planted.

Girls, watch your daddy because this is the stuff a forever life is made of.  It is dedication to pulling out what is thistly and thorny and working to create fertile soil.  It is commitment to not leaving life “as is,” but actively seeking new beauty.  It is choosing to be a servant.  {Let the record show I do this in ways other than gardening J}  THAT is love. 

It’s the stuff that gets you from one anniversary picture to the next.

So that when you do get gussied up and kiss for the camera per your kids’ request, you can enjoy those special moments with confidence that all the moments will count special.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Best Sour Cream Raisin Pie {Recipe}

It's no secret that I love to cook.  And, of all the people in the world that I like to learn from, my grandma is most definitely my favorite.  Not only is she incredible in the kitchen, but she has made the preparing of food a ministry.  She prepares for others in times of need.  She prepares to bring smiles.  She prepares simply to share.  She lives her life to be a blessing.

My favorite dessert from Grandma Peter's kitchen is most definitely sour cream raisin pie.  If you haven't had this before and it sounds gross to you, don't worry.  I had the same reaction until I actually tried it and realized it was straight from God.  Try it.  You'll thank me later.

I've long wanted to learn how to make this delicacy but I'd never asked.  Until earlier this week when my mom, girls, and I took a girls overnight trip and we remedied this.  I can't tell how sacred the communing of our hands pressing the pie crust felt. 

Gosh I love this lady.

My mom posted some pictures to Facebook of the event.  I am the fourth generation to learn this recipe and with my girls dabbling in they became the fifth.  I love that.  The pictures tantalized taste buds, and I started getting requests for the recipe.  Well, I talked to my granny this morning and lucky for y'all it's not top secret.  I get to share.

{These are my grandma's words exactly.  Trust me when I say "heaping" and "scant" are tough on a total type A personality in the kitchen.  What do you mean not exact? :)}

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

For the homemade pie crust {which is amazing & only 3 ingredients.  Who knew?!}
Heaping 1/3 cup butter Crisco
Scant 1 cup flour
Cold water

- Mix Crisco and flour with fingers until blended
- Gradually stir in some cold water with a fork until all is mixed together
- roll on floured surface (like waxed paper) with a floured rolling pin & put in a 8" or 9" pie pan
- prick generously with fork to prevent shrinkage
- press your fork around the edge of the pie crust to make it look pretty
- Bake at 400 degrees until brown (it took ours about 10 minutes)

For the Sour Cream Raisin Pie
1 Cup raisins
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites (these will be separated 1 for filling and 2 for meringue)
1 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar

For Filling:
- Cover raisins with water and boil until the water disappears.  Place to the side.
- In bowl, beat 3 egg yolks and one egg white (keep other two egg whites in separate small bowl for meringue later).
- Add 1 cup sugar, about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon & 1 cup sour cream with blender on low to medium speed. 
- Add filling to the raisins and cook on a double broiler until thick.
- Pour filling into pie crust.

For Meringue:
- Beat 2 remaining egg whites until stiff with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until stiff.   Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar.
- Spread meringue across top of pie. Make sure you get it all the way onto the crust to prevent shrinkage.

Bake pie at 400 degrees until brown (usually 10-15 minutes)

That is it!  It will come out looking and tasting amazing!

Learning to make this with Grandma Peters will forever be filed in my treasured memories box.  :)  I hope you made some fun memories this Fourth too!
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