Monday, October 25, 2010

The love affair continues.

A few months ago, when the team was visiting Dublin, Denise made this awesome peanut butter pie from this recipe.  I've had a craving ever since.  For fear of losing all self-control and being poisoned by copious amounts of pie, I haven't allowed myself to give in to the temptation of making such a pie again. 

Today, however, I was left with no other choice.

We have new neighbors.  They're really cool, and Angie can cook really good.  Last week, she brought us some sort of chicken-and-rice-amazing-stew-perfection.  We had the dish devoured and cleaned in a matter of hours.  Then a dilemma slapped us in the face.What could we make in return?  We couldn't send the dish empty, but Angie had set the bar so high.  What chance did we have of ever measuring up?

Then the answer came.  It was obvious, really.  Peanut butter pie!  I made a different recipe to compare against Denise's... 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 8 oz light cream cheese, 8 oz cool whip free.  Of course, I had to make two pies.  One to taste.  One to send.  You know, to make sure it was good enough to pass along.  Daddy didn't seem too upset about the taste test.  The verdict?  Yum. Eeeeee.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why don't you try this fleece on for size?

Gideon says, "Ok God, I know you said you'd save Isreal through me and all, but could you prove you meant what you said?  I'm gonna lay this fleece out for you all night.  In the morning, if there is dew on the fleece and nothing else, then I'll believe you really mean to do what you said you'd do.  Sound good?"  God does it!  Gideon gets up the next morning to find a soaking wet fleece on completely dry ground.  So Gideon looks toward heaven and says, "Listen God, that was really cool... and I don't want to make you mad or anything, but can I ask you for just one more favor?  Would you mind mixing things up, you know, just so I can be absolutely sure?  This time, can you keep the fleece dry and make the ground wet?  That'd be really great."  God does it... again.  Dry fleece.  Wet ground.  Gideon defeats Midian.  Isreal is saved.  God is faithful.

I laid out my own fleece-of-sorts a few days ago.  In all honesty, I didn't expect God to respond to my flagrant ridiculousness.  But He did.  And though I was impressed, it was hard for me to accept that He'd done it on purpose.  Stupid, I know.  And like Gideon, I wanted to be sure.

Tonight, my fleece got all mixed up.  Same fleece.  Opposite results.  I didn't ask for it this time.  Still, it's a strange thing, when your fleece shows up twice.  My only response is to sit here with my jaw on the table, gaping at the fleece laying before me, and let Truth sink in... God is faithful!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hey, God! Wanna play some ball?

I've never experienced signs and wonders.  Don't get me wrong, I've seen evidence of God working in my life, felt peace that passes understanding, witnessed love that pulses through a community of believers.  But no visions.  No voices.  No dreams or premonitions.  Until now.

About a month ago, I started praying that God would reveal a piece of His provision by November 1st.  A sending church, a departure date, something specific to affirm this path I'm traveling.  A month ago, it was an easy prayer.  Plenty of time for my big God to do big things.  Now my palms are starting to sweat.  Is God going to hold up His end of this deal I tossed before Him?  What if He doesn't?  What then?  Do I renegotiate?  Do I add more time?  Do I remain committed? 

These were among the multitude of questions and doubts muddying my thoughts Friday night.  I was with Missions Resource Network at World Mission Workshop in rural Arkansas, trying to listen to the evening's keynote speaker.  Finally, I bowed my head in surrender to the battle raging within.  I tried to focus the chaos into some sort of coherent prayer, a desperate plea for Dublin, Provision, and November 1st.

A thought entered.  The Rangers are playing the Yankees tonight.  Another attempt to focus on prayer.  God, are you listening?  Give me a sign.  Let the Rangers win.  My audacity is laughable.  Numbers start flying into my head.  Four to one, no, three to one, five to three, no, seven to two.  Yeah, God, seven to two.  Let the Rangers beat the Yankees seven to two.  What?  Now I'm negotiating playoff scores with my Creator?  I shake it off and move on.

We didn't have cell reception at Camp Tahkodah, so after the keynote, we jump in the van and head for Sonic.  Someone pulls out a phone.  Rangers are up five to nothing, top of the 7th inning!  Hey, maybe God's gonna play along with my ridiculous proposal.  Fifteen minutes later, the Yankees come back, now they're up six to five.  Guess God doesn't want to play ball.  That's what I figured.

Saturday.  The workshop's winding down.  We load up and hit the road.  Phones come out.  Game Two, 6th inning, Rangers-seven, Yankees-two.  Excuse me?!?  What was that score again?  Seven to two?  Sure enough.  A sudden rush of excitement sends a shiver down my spine.  But the game's not over yet, there's still plenty of baseball to be played.  Chill out.

We stop to eat.  The game goes on, innings pass... Top of the 9th.  Three more outs.  One.  Is this for real?  Two.  Seriously, God, are you messing with me?  Three.  Seven to two!  What just happened?!?!?!?!  My thoughts are frozen.  My mind is completely blown.

My first reaction?  Coincidence.  OK, God, that was cool and all, but could you do it one more time?  Just so I can be sure.  Can we test the fleece one more time?  But I can't dismiss this so easily.  There are two things I know:  One... God played along on His time, not mine.  The score was dead-on, the night was all wrong.  He made me wait.  Two... my request was bold, specific, and totally absurd.  Still, God heard it, responded, and now I pray for November 1st with a spirit of renewed confidence.  Let's play ball!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I guess having a brother isn't so terrible.

The day I've been dreading for 8 months has come and gone.  It was inevitable.  I spent October 9th in sack cloth and ashes.  My sister spent October 9th in a wedding dress.  She was radiant.  The ceremony was beautiful.  The dreadful day turned out to be quite perfect.
Jes had asked Amy to do a reading of some kind, so I volunteered to sing a verse or two of "Defying Gravity."  My offer was declined.  Since I wouldn't get the opportunity to bless Jes and Rob with my gift of song, I settled on writing a short passage to be read before they blended their "unity sand". 

Here it is.

 For centuries, sand was used to mark the passage of time, "As sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives," and so goes the melodrama.  Today, Rob and Jes choose to pour their history and their future together.  In this moment, with this sand, they choose to move through time as one.

Sand is ever-changing.  Its destiny is found on the whims of waves.  By crashing tides and peaceful currents, sand is carried from one day to the next.  Such is marriage.  Rob and Jes will rest in quiet rivers, they will be ravaged by angry seas, and no two days will ever be the same.

Finally, sand is used as both a filter, to purify, and a mortar, to bond.  Jes and Rob's commitment to each other is personified in this sand.  It is the filter purifying their love and the mortar bonding them together.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Big obstacles, both hurdled and yet to come...

I've been quilting now for about a year and a half.  I counted the other day.  Nineteen completed.  Two that are close.  Eight in queue.   That's about one quilt a month if you just look at the numbers.  But there's something you should know:

I started my fourth quilt for my great friend, Jael Beamon Hastings, in May 2009.  It was a beast of a quilt.  Queen size.  Log cabin.  Lots of cutting, piecing, ironing, and frustration.  I worked on it through the end of July (three months) before I set it aside and moved on.  I finally finished all the blocks and pieced the top in about October.  But I didn't like it.  So I got rid of some blocks and added a border (one week).  I couldn't bring myself to quilt it quite yet, so it sat in the closet for another long while.  I tackled that task this May (another week).  But I still couldn't make myself work on it long enough to get it all finished.  This time, it chilled out in a laundry basket with some beach towels before I finally got the guts to sew on the border (one day) and count this egg as hatched.  I don't know if you've been doing the math, but that's a grand total of three and a half months out of the last eighteen that were consumed by this blasted quilt!  With that in mind, my quilts per month average goes up significantly.

I gave Jael Beamon Hastings her finished quilt when I passed through Little Rock last weekend.  I don't know who was more excited: me, to finally be rid of it, or Jael, to finally get her hands on it.  Either way, seeing it laying awesomely on Jael's bed made it worth every stitch of frustration.

Another obstacle was hurdled on my Arkansas trip.  My little VW Bug reached 100,000 miles!  It happened on my way home, at about midnight.  I spent the next few minutes driving in the dark and reminiscing about all the roads we had traveled together (corny moments demand corny sentiments... forgive me).

Four of us, along with all of our luggage, crammed inside for eighteen hours round-trip on the way to Atlanta for Natalie's wedding.  The passenger side mirror getting knocked off by a falling kayaking, then jimmy-rigged back on with lots of duct tape.  Losing my keys in the lake... twice.  The second time, I went back the next morning and found them.  The keyless entry still worked.  Miraculously.  Another time, I was real close to losing three kayaks on Highway 30 when my roof rack came loose.  It was a huge fiasco.

I'll be getting rid of my car when I make the Big Move.  I'll miss it.

Jes and Rob's wedding is one week from today.  In seven days, they will say "I do" and life will change forever.  In less than 165 hours, my middle sister will change her last name to Mason.  That's one big obstacle!!!