Sunday, December 28, 2008

a bridesmaid. . .and more

So, last weekend I was a bridesmaid (matron!) in my friend Cristina's wedding; my dress was lovely- green satin and chiffon with a cream sash, and the shoes- satin flats with little bows; Mercy fixed my hair and make-up. . .Hmmm, the last time I was a bridesmaid, my sisters were getting married- 30 years ago. Imagine that!

In April 2002, I penned Cristina's name in my Bible next to Psalm 84:11

For the Lord is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

So, we walked life's road. . . circumstances didn't appear good in Cristina's life; over and over we spoke truth to one another. . . No good thing does He withhold. . . .Taste and see that the Lord is good . . . How abundant is your goodness, Lord, which you have stored up for those who take refuge in you. . .(Ps 31, 34)

We kept walking together, and I watched Cristina trust God and grow in grace amid affliction-and my own heart was challenged and nourished-the wonderful fruit of discipleship, so I've discovered. . .

Blessings on your marriage, Cristina and Randy-Have a wonderful life!

Monday, December 15, 2008

simplicity and extravagance

Our Amaleah was visiting last week- I handed her the tiny pewter nativity scene and suggested she find a nice spot to set it up. She cleared a place in my narrow oak bookshelf and then exclaimed . . . but there's no manger! So, she and I poked around and decided that blocks would work; then Amaleah added sticks, grass, leaves to complete the scene-I love her five year old creativity. . .and I love the simplicity.

Christmas in rural Mexico was simple- a blanket of pine needles on the floor of the church building, recitations and singing on Christmas Eve, little girls with new plastic sandals (including my little girls), sweet coffee, hard animal crackers and peanuts, tamales, oranges, and a next-day trek over the mountain for more fellowship and worship-simple celebrations. . .Hmmm, just the way I like it!

Now then, simple may be my preference, but simple isn't necessarily more God honoring . . . infact, the incarnation of God the Son, bursts with extravagance.

"and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14)

"God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that he who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16)

So, that first Christmas, because God loves sinners, the Eternal entered into time-Imagine that, Soul! Am I overwhelmed by the reality of God's extravagant love for me? And just how can I love others with such extravagance?

Perhaps it could mean cheerfully sharing my kitchen with the 24 dozen tamales and gallons of hot chocolate that my husband is packing up for the men at the homeless shelter.

. . . and honestly, it could mean relinguishing my desire for the simple and embracing another's preference for more extravagance-such a minute sacrifice, but it's all about my heart, isn't it!

things we do together. . .

So, last Saturday, John and I scrutinized the Christmas trees in the lot-attempting to choose just the right one. . .
Mercy called from college, "Remember to choose a big tree, not like last year's!"

Aye, where are these sons and daughters when we need them??

However, we managed to pick out a lovely tree, together, all by ourselves and it was fun.
Next came the challenge of loading our 7ft. tree on the back of the Jetta- together, all by ourselves.

That's when Jeremiah called from Denver, "You're loading the tree onto the bicycle rack? and you're tying it down with Boy Scout knots? Sounds like you're doing a great job, Papi. . . ."

Our lovely tree hung on the bicycle rack, tipping over the trunk, secured with expert knots- we brought it safely home, together, all by ourselves. . . and it was fun.
Next we set it up in the ususal tree spot, added lights and decorations, admired it, satisfied.

And then we mused, when they come. . . what will they think??

Monday, December 8, 2008

red cabbage, red currant jam, and a memory

I have a memory of the red cabbage my Danish grandmother would prepare for holiday meals. . . and then when she was no longer there to prepare it, red cabbage came from the store, in a jar. Year after year we passed the red cabbage, more for my grandmother's memory than because we were eager to spoon it onto our plates--although the color is lovely, bright purple.

So, this Thanksgiving I decided to search for a recipe for red cabbage-could I duplicate my grandmother's? I discovered lots of recipes for German red cabbage, a few for Norwegian red cabbage, and then. . . there it was: Danish Red Cabbage- it looked authentic:

In Denmark it is traditional to serve a cooked pickled red cabbage for Christmas Eve, a great side dish to any roast duck, turkey, or goose!
Thanksgiving day, the girls and I were cooking - no duck or goose here, but the turkey was roasting. . . and me? well, I was shredding red cabbage; my authentic recipe calls for a medium head of red cabbage, water, red currant jam, sugar, vinegar, salt-simmer with the lid on.
As I was draining some of the lovely purple juice down the sink, Mercy exclaimed, "Ugh, what's that smell?" Then I realized that it was a good kitchen smell from the recesses of my memory-and I told her, "for me, this is aThanksgiving smell from long ago!"

So, it was good-that pickled Danish Red Cabbage-both the memory and the dish.
(I wonder if the left-overs would be a tasty accompaniment to Christmas tamales?)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I pray that your love may abound still more and more. . .

This sweet two year old in blue is our Julia-and yes, her daddy had the same white hair. . .folks in Mexico would exclaim: hair like onion skins. . .like corn silk.

So, our Julia loves to fold clothes-the other day I sat watching as she intently, neatly selected her clean clothes from the laundry basket, deliberately smoothed and folded, "Julia, stop folding, it's time to go to the zoo!" called her daddy.
This little scene makes me smile, for you see, I too love laundry-yes, indeed, I will come to your house and fold your clothes most any day.

Over the years I've prayed for my children while folding their individual items-jeans, skirts, socks, T-shirts; now, however, I rarely get my hands on their laundry (apart from a request for a hem, a rip, or a button)

. . . .but I continue to pray for them.

It's a curious thing. . . but these days I pray for my family individually according to the days of the week- Rachel on Mondays, Luke and Gabrielle on Tuesdays, Naomi and Joshua on Wednesdays, and down the line I go until Sundays when I remember both Jeremiah and Mercy(numbers 7 & 8, you know!)

Dear Ones, And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may distinguish the things that are exellent. . .
(Philippians 1:9-10)