Saturday, March 30, 2013

The In Between Day: Death and Expectation {Lent Day #47}

 It is so full and so crazy, but I do so love this week. The Seder on Wednesday night was ~ "so beautiful."  That's what everyone kept saying, anyway, and I had to agree.  The beautiful part goes far beyond the table settings and candles to the number of people gathered to remember the sin, death, and slavery we were rescued from by our Passover Lamb.

Then yesterday we gathered for the 14th year in a row ~ since we started the church ~ to walk the wooden cross through our town ~ reading the story of Good Friday at different stops along the way.  This is definitely not a "fun" thing to do, but an important one, I think.  On a very, very small scale it allows us to identify with the shame and ridicule that Jesus endured on the way to His death on our behalf.

Later in the evening  ~ after I took Kory to the airport for a college-tour trip ~ we met back at church for a Tenebrae service with chairs circled around the cross and dramatic readings from scripture telling the story of the Crucifixion.  It ends in complete darkness and silence. Many stayed to pray in the solemn shadows.  While I sat praying, I kept thinking of the stanzas from two of my favorite hymns...
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the Cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul!
(It Is Well With My Soul ~ Horatio Spofford)


And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
(How Great Thou Art ~ Stuart Hine)

And then today, on this "in between day" ~ the day after the death of Christ and before His Resurrected victory over death, we went to a funeral.  Well, actually it was a memorial service for a young man who took his own life last month ~ the 22 year old son of a friend of ours ~ a child we've known and interacted with off and on for the last 13 years.

 It was both grievous and glorious.  We cried as his parents and friends talked about their indescribable sadness and as we watched the slide show of his baby through college years.  And then we clapped and praised and sang together in the joy of knowing his eternal security and ours, too.  Because his life celebration was all held on this "in between" death and resurrection day, it gave us all such a vivid picture of the hope of Resurrection and New Life ~ the things that WILL happen to us who believe ~  by grace through faith ~ because of WHAT JESUS DID tomorrow.  If there could ever be a "perfect" day to mourn and hope all at the same time, today is certainly that day.
 Before and after the memorial, Kayla and I worked on an "au naturel" Easter egg project.  We boiled cabbage, yellow onions, beets, turmeric, coffee, and saffron in various combinations to make natural dyes for our eggs this year.  We let the dyes cool while we were away for the afternoon, and this evening, we've been letting the eggs sit in the natural dyes.  Actually, Kayla has been dying eggs AND cooking dinner for us at the same time this evening ~ Ginger BBQ Chicken Kabobs! She's getting to be a pro in the kitchen.
They are turning out better than I expected.  The beets definitely provide the strongest stain, and second runner-up goes to the yellow onion skin/saffron/turmeric dye.  I love the "earthy" look of the finished product.

The day is almost over, and that's a good thing...

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless, you are still in your sins.  Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
I Corinthians 15: 16-19

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gluten Free Friday ~ Deviled Eggs {Lent Day #46}

Happy Good Friday!  I have had a busy day already, and now am heading out the door to take Kory to the airport.  He'll be visiting two colleges there that he's been accepted to, but has never seen. He's now got only one month left to decide where he'll go to college in the fall. I'm hoping to get back from the airport in time for our Good Friday service tonight!

I do think it's ironic that these eggs are called "deviled."  I'm sure the real devil was rejoicing about the events that happened today, but he only got a few days to relish in his seeming victory.

I'll be serving these on Sunday after church ~ when we'll all be celebrating Jesus' victory over death and our own new lives because of it!

Deviled Eggs

12 eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp mustard {yellow or dijon}
salt and pepper to taste
paprika to sprinkle for garnish

Place eggs in saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil for a minute or two and then remove pan from heat.  Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Rinse eggs with cold water for 2 minutes.  Peel shells off eggs, slice in half lengthwise, and pop yolks out into a separate bowl.  Use a fork to break up yolks and then add the remaining ingredients.  Combine thoroughly and until mixture is smooth.  Use small spoons or pastry bags to fill each egg half with the yolk mixture.  Sprinkle with paprika.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thanks and Bread and Betrayal {Lent day #45}

So, this is one of the pieces of artwork I got to see while slowly strolling through the Boston Museum of Fine Arts last week.  I think the religious artwork is partly why I'm drawn to the European Art section.  Some of them are sort of ridiculous and based on unlikely legend, but some of them are so moving.  I did get tickled over the ones depicting the incarnation or the crucifixion that also included St. Jerome.  He would always be peeking around the scene ~ from behind Mary as she held the baby Jesus or standing near the Cross itself. So funny.

I loved this sculpture of the Last Supper.  It appears to be such a lively scene, which it probably was for a while.  But it also made me think of the darkness of the coming betrayal and the giving of thanks that Jesus gives in the face of that betrayal

...that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
I Corinthians 11: 23, 24

When I read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, I learned that in Greek the phrase "He had given thanks" or "He gave thanks"  in that verse is "eucharisteo."
When I finished the book last year, I made this banner for Easter as a reminder of what Jesus did.  The premise of Ann's book is that there is always reason to give thanks, and that in doing so miracles happen ~ especially miracles of transformation in our way of seeing and therefore in our experiencing of joy.

I spoke to a group of women over the weekend on the topic of sanctification.  We looked at the life of an Old Testament woman ~ the Shunammite woman of 2 Kings.  She sets a really high standard in her godly responses to the trials of life.  I tried to encourage them (and myself) by reminding them that Jesus also went through this process...

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered...
Hebrews 5: 7-8

Therefore He had to be make like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Hebrews 2: 17-18

I read the stories of the Exodus Passover and Jesus' last Passover with His disciples to my Challenge students this week. I heard a few groans and saw a few rolled eyes over the betrayal by Judas.  What a wretched, evil guy Judas was, seemed to be the thinking.  And it's true, but ALL of the disciples betrayed and denied Jesus that night ~ and so have all of us.

I have felt the sting of betrayal in recent years ~ big and small betrayals ~ by those close and not so close.  One of the close ones reached out for a helping hand recently. My first response?  Incredulity. How could they possibly have the audacity to ask a favor in light of all they've done to me?  All they've taken from me? How can they act as if  there's nothing between us?

Good thing the One I've betrayed doesn't allow those same realities to keep Him from giving generously when I ask for help.  Thankfully, He is not incredulous when the former traitor comes to Him with pleas of rescue and comfort.

No.  He sympathizes with the pain of my experience with betrayal, because He's been there ~ experienced  the betrayal of His closest friends over 2000 years ago tonight.  And then ~ amazingly ~ He doesn't hold my sin of betrayal against me, but credits me with His own righteousness.

May this truth overwhelm me as it should, Lord ~ during this weekend of celebrating Your betrayal on my behalf, and every day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bitter Roots, Sweet Trees {Lent Day #44}

Whole Foods Cashier: {surprised} "Is that horseradish?  That's a lot of horseradish!"

Me: {laughing} "Yes, it IS horseradish.  And it IS a lot!

Whole Foods Cashier: "Do you mind if I ask what you are going to do with all of that horseradish?"

I quickly explained that I was making 15 Seder Plates for a Passover celebration this week, and that some day soon I would be crying in my kitchen while peeling and grating all of that horseradish!

And today was that day.  Oh, wow.  It hurts to breathe.  I forget just how strong and painful that sensation is. It's much worse than an onion.  The tears and sore throat are totally unavoidable.

But now it's all sealed up in a plastic container, and thankfully, the stinging sensation in my sinuses is dissipating.

We'll all eat a couple of bites of raw, grated horseradish tonight at our Passover meal in order to remember the bitterness of the Israelites slavery in Egypt.  Here's what the Messianic Passover Haggadah reads just prior to the eating of the horseradish:

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on Passover we eat only maror, bitter herbs.  As sweet as our lives are today, let us still remember how bitter life was for the children of Israel in the land of Egypt.
" the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.  They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields." (Exodus 1:12-14)
 The bitter herbs are called "The Maror."  Remember Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi?  Remember how she asked to be called "Mara" and not "Naomi" anymore?  It was because she was "bitter" over the death of her husband and sons.  The Hebrew word for "bitter" is "maror."

The Israelites lived bitter lives of toil due to their enslavement in Egypt. Naomi grieved bitterly over the curse of death experienced in her immediate family.  Slavery and death are the results of sin ~ the very bitter results.

But the "afikomen" and the wine, or juice is sweet.

At the end of the Seder meal, the striped, pierced "afikomen" matzah will be hidden, found by children, and then ransomed back in order to be eaten for dessert.  Then the cup of redemption and the cup of praise will be lifted and all in unison we will say...

Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

It will be like when those freed Israelite slaves began complaining that the only water to drink in the desert was bitter.  They even had thoughts of returning to Egypt and slavery where at least the water was good and the food was rich, but Moses cried out to God for help, and God showed him a tree.

When Moses threw the tree into the water, it became sweet. It took away the bitterness. It was a sign of things to come.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law (death, slavery), having become a curse for us - for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"... (Galations 3: 13)

Tasting of the horseradish-bitter curse of sin, death, and slavery tonight in order to better taste the sweetness of the Tree.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Passover Crimson, Snowfall White ~ Again {Lent Day #43}

{Re-posting this today ~ since it's Passover AND my brother's birthday. Celebrating him today, and all the Lord has done in his life and his wife's life ~ and now their life together.  They gave exuberant permission to share their story, because it glorifies our Passover Lamb, Jesus ~ and all that He has done on our behalf.}

He's been near and dear for many years.  She was fairly new on the scene, becoming his wife in the summertime. I go to a lot of weddings.  I cried at theirs, because I had prayed for this moment for so long, because he was so happy, because she was so beautiful, so perfect for him, and because the ceremony put Christ on display so clearly, so unashamedly.  She wore a long white dress with aqua-colored sandals.  He wore a white shirt with an aqua-colored tie and a content smile.  We were on the beach and basking in dazzling sunshine.  It was glorious.

"We've both been through a lot, and we want to start off strong," was his explanation for paying for professional pre-marital Christian counseling.  When the counselor indicated the end of his typical sessions, they took his offer to continue, pressing deeper into their pasts, gaining tools for the future.

Sexual brokenness haunted each of their histories.  "She talks to the girls about remaining pure because she suffered the pain of promiscuity beginning as a teen," he said of a ministry in which they served together. "I was the old virgin on the panel," he laughed, but as a victim of sexual abuse, he is also able to minister to needful teens uniquely. I was humbled by their authenticity, blessed by their willingness to be used in this way.

I've read quite a lot of the Bible, and the more I do, the more I am in absolute awe and can declare with the Psalmist, "Oh, how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day," and "How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" {Psalm 119:97, 103} Truly, hardly a day passes in which He does not speak specifically and directly to my heart through His word. And it IS a promise that He would do this, so I'm not sure why I am surprised.  Really, I should expect nothing less, but He's still building that faith in me, I suppose.

In the last 3 years I've made my way through most of the Old Testament and quite a bit of the New in a more systematic way than usual. A while back I got a little chuckle out of Hezekiah re-instituting the Passover in chapter 30 of 2 Chronicles, because it reminded me of the semi-rag tag nature of my own church...

"For a multitude...had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed.  For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the good Lord pardon everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.'  So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people." 

Full of grace, Hezekiah's Passover was also glorious...

"So there was great joy in Jerusalem because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.  Then the Levitical priests arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard and their prayer came to His holy dwelling place, to heaven." {v. 26-27}

Passover: One of three main Jewish festivals to commemorate protection from the plague of death against the firstborn in Egypt and liberation from Egyptian slavery.

That's the definition my Bible's dictionary gives it.  Hezekiah re-instituted this important festival, because the people needed to remember their great deliverance by their great and covenantal God.  They needed to recount the red blood on their doorposts, and the protection it afforded them. Reading the account caused me to pause and remember, too.

There were a couple of really wicked kings after Hezekiah, but then Josiah's reign begins.  Slowly and thoroughly, he removed the idols, and repaired the temple and calls the people back to their God.  And like Hezekiah, Josiah also had to re-institute the Passover celebration which had not been celebrated in about 75 years.  Josiah's Passover was even more glorious than Hezekiah's...

"There had not been celebrated a Passover like it in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet, nor had any of the kings of Israel celebrated such a Passover as Josiah did with the priests and Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem." 
{2 Chronicles 35: 18}

Passover, Passover, and more Passover is what I was reading about in the last couple of weeks, and therefore thinking quite a bit about.  The passing over of sin at the Cross was evidently something the Lord was wanting me to think on and celebrate.  Christ, the Passover Lamb, the fulfillment of all of those celebrations, the cessation of the sacrificial system, the fully and forever atoning bloodshed.

Those summer newlyweds came to visit in a cold month.  I prayed that it would snow for the desert-dwelling-duo, and it did. They threw snowballs, and built snowmen, and even shoveled the stuff. It was glorious. Different from the dazzling white of the sunny beach wedding, but glorious!

There was a bit of girltalk during their visit. I wish there had been more. She said her story, her painful, broken story had been written in a book, and warned me that it was bad, really bad.  I praised her for her courage to be vulnerable in sharing her "really bad" story.

I had no idea.

I ordered the book, not only because I wanted to know her better, but also because it seemed like a great resource to use with women in my church.  It arrived on a Friday evening.  UPS.  The kids hoped that the package on the doorstep was their new Xbox game.  They were disappointed that inside of that box was not a super cool soccer game, and totally unaware that it actaully contained a piece of the heart of Christ sent to his daughter, their mom.

"Mom!  Oh my gosh, Mom!  What happened?  What's the matter?"  one child came running.  I didn't realize I had gasped and started to cry in the kitchen as I read.  I apologized and explained that nothing bad had happened; I was only reading a sad story in a book.  They are used to me crying over sad books, meaningful movies... typical. The explanation sufficed.

I moved to the basement, and the sobs came uncontrollably.  Abortion. I had not anticipated that one.  Twins that required not one abortion, but two.  The second one late term. She was so young then, and there were other "bad" things, but those were expected.  It was the abortions which happened a decade ago that made my heart literally hurt inside of my chest.  Close friends of mine have had abortions.  I've watched at least one walk through its pain and then journey into Christ's healing.  It took years. When he took her, her dad said it would only hurt like a paper cut, really bad at first, but then insignificantly later. He was wrong.  She has a charm bracelet with the names of the one aborted, and then one miscarried. Now she has four healthy, grown children. Forgiveness. Mercy.  Redemption.  Beautiful.

This one seemed so close, though.

Then flooding into my heart and mind came this...

"Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool."
Isaiah 1:18

and then David's words...

"Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
Psalm 51:7

Oh, God!  The Passover.  The crimson Passover!  And the snow that I asked for!?! The pure, white, delightful snow.  She was playing. in. the. SNOW.  Playing!  Forgiven. Free.  And that dress. That snow white dress that she wore at the beach. Now the sobs turned into all out weeping.  The Old Testament Bible readings.  The silly weather prayer requests.  They were gifts for me, preparation for this moment.  You are so good to me.  You are so faithful to show this "good girl" the extent of your love and grace to others, so that my prayer to understand my equal need will be accomplished.  I long to know you in your extravagant grace and forgiveness, and you answer that prayer so readily.  "for there is no distinction, for all have sinned..." {Romans 3:22-23}

And as is repeated in the Passover liturgy..."It would have been enough...It would have been enough..."  Yes, that experience was more than enough, but the story doesn't end there.

Exactly nine days later, nine days after I wept over her "bad" past, he sends a photo text message. It's of a home pregnancy test.  It's positive.

Oh my! You must just really enjoy delighting me with your boundless grace, Lord.  A baby!?  She's going to have a baby!  He's going to be a Daddy.

And then as if it had been settled before the foundation of the earth, written in the days of His book before one of them came to be, I was filling in birthdays on my new 2013 calendar later that same afternoon ~ the baby news day.  When I got to his birthday month, I noticed that it already had something printed by the manufacturer in the square that marked his special day, an annual and nationally recognized holiday.


Of course.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tender Tears {Lent Day #42}

The questions was "What turn of event in your life has the Lord used to perfect you as a worshiper of Him?" Around the tables small groups of women began to answer...

"I lost my job last week, but I start a new one tomorrow."

"I had a baby a year ago."

"He broke our engagement right before the wedding."

And then one woman got only a few seconds into her "turn" before the tears started to roll down her cheeks.  She talked about how she had walked away from God and church as a teenager, married, chose not to raise her kids in any specific faith, made several moves, and had basically been "driving" her own life for decades. "And then, about six weeks ago," she said, "He showed me what I was doing, and how incapable I am of driving my own life, and now He's driving my life again." The tears were streaming.

She started to apologize for the tears, but then she said, "No.  Actually, I'm so grateful for these tender tears, and I hope I never lose them."

I understood completely, and thought about her as I drove home from the retreat, praying for her.

I woke up totally exhausted Sunday morning.  I fell asleep forgetting to pray for Robert before bed like I try to do on Saturday nights.  I also try and have his breakfast all ready on Sunday mornings, but barely pulled myself out of bed to send him off to church before the early service yesterday.

I was finally awake by the second service. The sermon was on Matthew 6, and highly convicting.  Secret prayer life.  Secret giving. Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Look your best while fasting.

It came time for Communion. I heard the familiar words of institution, and watched the bread being broken. I received my bread and juice and sat down taking them in one at a time.  I thought about His body broken. His blood spilled.  For me.

And this doesn't always happen, but it's happening more and more.  Tender tears falling.

I thought of my new friend from the retreat.

Yes, I'm so grateful for these tender tears.  May they come more frequently over what He's done for me.  May I never lose them.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Perfume and Palms {Lent day #41}

I know that yesterday was also "Day #40" but I just realized that I skipped from #26 to #28 a while back, so today is really day 40, and maybe I'll go back and change the numbers of the posts at some point!?!

Today is Palm Sunday.  When I get to church in a little while, Joe will be at the front door handing out Palm leaves.  Cindy and Ben will be joining him this year, I hear ~ making sure that everyone gets a leaf. I've come to love and anticipate this, and I've already told you that I love this week of celebration more than any other during the year.

Kayla drew this picture last year.  This morning I re-read the account of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds gathering, the coats and tree branches lining His path, the shouting and cheering of the coming  King.  It was a selfish celebration, though.  I don't think the people were really celebrating WHO Jesus was, but rather WHAT He could accomplish on their behalf to make their lives more pleasant. But Jesus still allowed this ignorant praise and honor.

On Wednesday, my small group discussed the woman who anointed Jesus with her hair and perfume.  Most could relate to the disciples concern over the wastefulness of the expression. Some wondered why Jesus didn't try and stop her as well. Why would He allow this impractical act?  Doesn't He value frugality and caring for the poor?

But the fact is, He did allow it.  And not only did He allow it, but He defended the woman to a roomful of men, told them to stop bothering her.  And even though the woman might not have fully understood everything about who Jesus was, and what was about to happen to Him, Jesus credited her with an act of worship that would forever be remembered, and with preparing Him for His coming burial, and therefore death.

Why did He allow these expressive, lavish, sacrificial expressions ~ whether selfish, ignorant, or sincere?  Because they were good and right.  He isn't conflicted about His identity like we are ~ desiring accolades and then feigning humility.  He knows He is God and He is worthy.  He knows that our expressions of praise are not only due Him, but beneficial to us who were created for this very purpose.

Lord, You accept my palms of praise even when my worship is motivated by self-centered hope.  You receive my perfume of sincere worship even when I can't fully grasp all that You are and all that Your death and resurrection mean.  In the receiving of it all, You teach me to do the thing in which my soul will be most free and satisfied ~ offering You praise and honor and glory and thanks ~ fixing my eyes always on You.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Keller & Elliot on Confession {Lent Day #40}

Still away today on Cape Cod for a women's retreat.  Would you pray for the time if you think of it?

Thought I would post these links ahead of time, since I won't have my computer with me.  Can't believe it's already day #40 of the Lenten season. Holy Week begins on Sunday, and I'm really thankful for all the Lord has taught me in this daily effort to focus on my deep need for His forgiveness.

What about you?  I'd love to hear how some of you prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection.

Here is an interesting snippet from Tim Keller on true confession and repentance:

And here is a link to an old "Back to the Bible" episode.  It's actually the transcript, but I think there's still a way to listen to the broadcasts.  This one is Elisabeth Elliot talking about confession and repentance.

Have a good weekend, and if you're up to it, leave a comment and share what you've been learning during this season!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gluten Free Friday ~ Brisket for Passover {Lent Day #39}

Passover, Good Friday, and Easter are just around the corner, and I can hardly wait!  I think it is my favorite week of the year.  We'll do a Passover Seder for over 100 people next Wednesday night at church, a Crosswalk through town on Good Friday and later that evening a sort of Tenebrae service.  Resurrection Sunday will be a great celebration at church,  lunch back at our house, and hopefully an egg hunt minus the several inches of snow that are on the ground right now.  And if we can swing it, brisket, rather than lamb, will be the main course for lunch that day.  Did you know that brisket is a traditional Passover dish as well?  Here's a great article about the season's beloved cut of meat ~ with a whole bunch of other brisket recipes in the sidebar.
I'm cheating a little bit today with a recipe re-run, but it's because in just a while I'm headed to Cape Cod  to speak at another women's retreat  for a couple of churches from Boston.   I'm running errands, and packing, and fretting about what I will wear what I will say.  Not really.  Well, not the part about what I will say anyway. ☺

Anyway...I posted this about four years ago.  At the bottom of the post, I mention my friend Sherri.  This recipe not only brings back wonderful Passover and Easter memories, but also the super fun memory of us preparing this recipe for the Christian band Geoff Moore and the Distance when we had them come and do a concert at our church in Austin.  As I recall, we also made them homemade banana pudding for dessert! So gourmet.

Oh ~ and since we had a week off from Classical Conversations due to ANOTHER snowstorm, I did some updating to the recipe index this week. I think it may actually be completely up to date now.


This is ALWAYS a big hit in our house and with guests. Brisket is sometimes hard to come by in this area, though. Whole Foods always carries it, but they charge $5.99 per pound. I can get it on sale sometimes, but a couple of times I've just bought a chuck roast and prepared it using this recipe. If the roast is too thick, I slice it into two thinner pieces. Enjoy with cole slaw, beans, and scalloped potatoes...yum!

Barbecued Brisket

3-5 lbs beef brisket
1 cup ketchup (or you can use plain tomato sauce)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder (or fresh, pressed garlic)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
oil for browning

Brown brisket on both sides in heavy skillet in oil over medium heat. Mix together remaining ingredients for sauce. In baking dish, spread 1/4 of sauce in bottom and place browned brisket on top. Pour remaining sauce over brisket. Cover and bake at 350* for 3-4 hours.

And yes, Sherri, this is the recipe we used to feed Geoff Moore and the Distance when they came to MBC for a concert! :) Was that about 15-16 years ago?? I'm still making the same brisket with only a few variations from the one in the Pastor's Wives Cookbook that you gave me way back then! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Recalling, Remembering, Rehearsing {Lent Day #38}

Her text message was urgent and despairing. Anxious, uncomfortable, wanting to hide.  She's a thousand miles away this week, so a phone date had to suffice.  Stuck and hopeless.  I urged her to reach out and be honest with another ~ no more hiding, no more shadow-living, no more deceiving.

Nope. Not happening.  It's too much to unload on someone.  It's not fair to them.  They'll come to wrong conclusions.  I'm so much more a mess than everyone else. I don't want to burden anyone with this.

Urging and then praying for this dear one while I had her on the line was all I could do.  She hung up in quiet, hopeless tears, even more ashamed that she'd bothered me ~ which wasn't the case.

An excited message came this morning.  The one I had urged her to reach out to, reached out to her instead. This one who knew nothing of the situation said that the Holy Spirit nudged her to do it.  A seemingly irresistible and urgent nudge to reach out to a mere acquaintance, she had to follow through.  They talked for hours.  They were honest about their pain and struggles.  There was connection, ministry, fellowship, healing, hope.

She was "blown away" and in utter amazement that the God she keeps running from just keeps on pursuing her anyway.

I urged her some more...

Write this down.  Journal this experience.  We tend to forget His many kindnesses to us.  Next week we'll be having another episode of hopelessness, despair, and defeat if we don't remember what He's done this week.

But you know what?  I write almost everything down.  I have stacks of journals filled with prayers, desperate pleas, and specific answers dating back about 20 years, but I still forget His kindnesses to me.

I forget how stuck and despairing I was when He answered so sweetly and perfectly.

I choose not to recall how many times He provided exactly what was needed at exactly the right time.

I rehearse my complaints rather than His faithfulness.

What He does for me is never enough for me ~ even when its extravagant, specific.

Lord, I confess this attitude of entitlement to You.  I beg for mercy and deliverance and provision, and You give them, but then my gratitude never matches my desperation.  I take it for granted and act as if it ought to be that way ~ always. I'm really never totally content in Your salvation or Your many gifts to me.  I always want more ~ often without a thought as to just how much you've already given.  Help me to recall Your faithfulness, Your abundant gifts of grace, Your patience, Your overwhelming provision.

Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel.  They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary...

...but He led forth His own people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock; He led them safely, so that they did not fear; but the sea engulfed their enemies.
Psalm 78: 41, 52-53

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.  Surely my soul remembers, and is bowed down within me.  This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.  The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3: 19-23

Reminds me of this Sara Groves song that I love...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not Plastic Surgery, But Cardiac {Lent Day #37}

I remember my grandmother sitting on the floor in the hallway, her face in a strapped contraption attached to bungee-cord-like ropes that somehow hooked to the her bedroom door frame.  When I inquired about this strange practice, she informed me she was doing a "face-lift."  I suppose it was the 1970's answer to plastic surgery, or just the cheaper version.  Growing up, and even later as an adult, I scoffed at the very idea of plastic surgery.  Privileged to sit across a cafe table from Elisabeth Elliot on two occasions, I later told friends of the beauty of her deep wrinkles and silver hair ~ every one of them telling the stories of a life lived faithfully and sacrificially in Christ.

But lately I've been lifting my face "up" as I look in the mirror, and it certainly does look better that way.  I've been lamenting the silvers and greys, too, but they are so abundant that it would take a monthly fortune to cover them up. I don't think I've ever been as concerned with or focused on external beauty as I am now. {Oh, the pride in thinking I was above such silly, ungodly things.}

But if I really think about it, I've always been more focused on external things than internal.  They've just been mostly in the "behavior" category and not necessarily so much in the "appearance" category.  While asking the Lord to reveal my sin and help me confess this morning, I was reminded of a book Robert and I read on parenting called Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.  I still highly recommend it, as it encourages parents to get to "heart" or internal issues when disciplining children.
"If you address only behavior in your children, you never get to the cross of Christ.  It is impossible to get from preoccupation with behavior to the gospel.  The gospel is not a message about doing new things.  It is a message about being a new creature.  It speaks to people as broken, fallen sinners who are in need of a new heart.  God has given His Son to make us new creatures.  God does open-heart surgery, not a face-lift.  He produces change from the inside out.  He rejects the man who fasts twice a week and accepts the sinner who cries for mercy."
Shepherding a Child's Heart, p. 69 
I can almost manage my behavior and words.  I can say and do appropriate things, kind things, sacrificial things, but my heart is not always in accord with my behavior.  An amazing thing about the cross and the resurrection, though, is that through them, my heart can be in accord with my behavior.  In fact, by the Spirit my new heart wants to love and serve like Christ.

Today I've been confessing the squelching of the Spirit's work in my new heart, as well as the fact that I was in desperate need of a new heart in the first place.  I've been agreeing with Him about the "face-lifts" I've attempted to earn His approval. If I try to behave my way to Christ through good works I make His torturous death a mockery.  I need forgiveness for doing that so often, rather than coming before Him with a contrite spirit.  He does not necessarily want my external sacrifices, he wants my heart. 

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; you are not pleased with burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 51: 16-17

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.  Give her the product of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31: 30-31

{I love that the "works" of the woman are received and rewarded ~ but seemingly when her heart and its worship of the Lord are her focus. Mrs. Elliot's great missionary and writing works praise her, but it was her new heart that enabled them in the first place.}

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fine Art, Snow, and Trash {Lent Day #36}

Run, shower, dress, put dinner in the crock pot for the kids, write a few notes to grandmas and dear praying WMU ladies, help with a few ratio math problems, go to the post office, make sure sports physical and payment for baseball get to the high school, change sheets on bed, pack history books to study while away, return a few emails, set things out for Classical Conversations, and more...all needed to be done before I left, and I almost talked myself out of going into Boston early.  

I'm so glad I didn't.

I made it out of the house a little after 12 noon, was in Boston by 2, parked in a very privileged spot in Cambridge {thank you, Pastor Cook}, and rode the subway to the Museum of Fine Arts.  Sadly, the museum closed at 4:45pm, so I only had about an hour and 45 minutes, but I drank in every precious moment ~ got the iPod/headphone guided tour and everything.  The museum is HUGE, so I had to choose carefully, and still only had time for about two-thirds of my choice ~the European Art collection.

Here's John the Baptist wearing a goatskin coat with the hooves still intact ~ and he's pointing to Jesus.
And here he is with his head on a platter.
This Monet painting was having very tedious cleaning and restoration work done on it.
Can you imagine working on a canvas that Monet himself worked on?  How did this woman get a job like that?  Wow.
 This blown glass sculpture {not in the European Art collection, but en route to} reached to the ceiling and was beautiful.
I think I gasped when I came upon this one!  It had been one of the paintings we studied in Challenge II in Western Cultural History seminar.  We even had to learn what museum it is located in, but I had forgotten.
And next some Monet "Water Lilies"
I saw and listened to the background of so many more amazing paintings and sculptures, took a very quick trip to the gift shop, and then the intercom announced the museum's closing.  I walked several chilly blocks to the Prudential Center, had dinner and dessert {Pinkberry!} and read a magazine to kill a bit of time before heading back to my car via subway and then on to the airport to pick Robert up from his trip to the Dominican Republic.  The evening was quite eventful, as I was in the middle of text messages from Sarah, our CC director, parents of students in my Challenge class, and Robert regarding the impending snowstorm.  Should we cancel or not?  Would Robert's flight get off the ground at JFK?  Would we need to spend the night in Boston?  The snow was coming down pretty heavy by the time he was due to arrive.

Robert's flight was delayed by about two hours ~ de-icing, more de-icing, computer problems, etc. CC was canceled.  Parents were notified. A hotel room was booked.  And I was falling asleep at the airport while waiting.  Robert sent a message telling me to go ahead and check into the hotel.  He would taxi there whenever his plane arrived.  It was a scary trip to the hotel with the snow and icy roads, but I made it.  As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, Robert messaged me to tell me he was on the ground in Boston.  Being wide awake at this point, I just turned around and went back to the airport to get him.  I think we finally climbed into bed at 1:30am.

After a late breakfast, we headed back home through this:
It was so scary!  There were accidents, and cars in ditches, and cars stuck in the grass all along the way.  We've been home for about three hours now, and it is STILL snowing.

We all sat around in the kitchen listening to Robert's adventures in the DR, looking at photos, and watching videos.  He had a really incredible experience, made important connections, and has a tentative plan for taking our church on a trip there in the spring or summer ~ probably to build a couple of houses.  He had no running water or electricity while there.  Not many people do.

The community he visited was across the river from this one.  The stuff cascading down the hill into the river is trash.
Kevin, a grad student from our church, has worked with the community folks in this area to improve living conditions in several ways.  The "street" they are standing on here is named "Kevin" in his honor ☺, and a beautiful grove of trees now stands in the place of the trash that this community had once piled up at the shore. Kevin was also Robert's interpreter at a church service on Sunday morning!
Two confessions tonight:

I am tired.

I am rich.

Rich, wealthy, privileged in too many ways to list ~ compared to so many.  Just feeling tired from a day of observing fine art, eating in upscale malls, and driving a car is a form of wealth and blessing beyond compare.  And yet I am dissatisfied.  And yet I grumble.  Forgive me, Lord.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Perpetual Tourist {Lent Day #35}

Yawn...just the birthplace of our of the Boston where the Declaration of Independence was first read....yawn. So boring. 
If all goes according to plan, I will head to Boston in a few hours in order to pick Robert up at Logan airport.  He's coming home from his trip to the Dominican Republic tonight.  Over the weekend, I started thinking about how much I love Boston, and that if I worked hard to get a lot of my teaching, cleaning, shopping, cooking, corresponding work done, then maybe I could spend most of the day in Boston today.    My plan is to spend several hours at the Museum of Fine Arts which is something I have not been able to do yet.  I can hardly wait! 

The weird thing is that Robert leaves this morning from the DR, and arrives at New York City's JFK airport mid-day.  He'll  have to spend six or seven hours in an airport and city that is only about 3 hours away from Boston, and not leave until 8pm.  I know I've mentioned this before, but just typing those words ~ Logan Airport, Museum of Fine Arts, New York City, and JFK airport feels crazy to a girl who grew up in Texas and then spent four years living in Oklahoma. Others seem to assimilate into these cool, big-city cultures in a much more suave and nonchalant way.  Not me.  I still can't get over it.  My camera is around my neck at all times.  People tease, and I feel silly, but I can't help being in awe of where I currently live ~ and have lived for quite some time now.  I am so uncool.
No big deal ~ just a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park?!?!
In my excitement over a potential trip to Boston, I got to thinking about how my excitement over being a chosen child of God ~ died for, forgiven, reborn, adopted, and given an imperishable inheritance often does not match my tourist-in-my-own-state giddiness. I am cool and nonchalant when it comes to that amazing spiritual reality.  I take it for granted, and do not explore and enjoy it.  Sometimes I even hate it in my complaints and discontent.  I don't want to capture it on the film of my heart and mind and marvel at its miraculous beauty.  So what? is sometimes my attitude.  What's the big deal? Oh ~ there are many days when I'm thankful and many moments I'm in awe of who my Father is, but I'd like to be always and appropriately grateful for the incredible gift of His salvation ~ with my camera around my neck, jaw-dropped, at the wonders of being His child.  It's a very big deal.

Lord, forgive my being under-whelmed at who You are and who I am in You.  Forgive the thinking that I deserve this firm grounding in Your grace.  I don't deserve it, and did nothing to obtain it.  It was all You, and it is truly unbelievable.  May I walk and live in the wonder of it at all times.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Confession Help From Mr. Baxter {Lent Day #34}

Last December through March, our family got to take a three month sabbatical in Austin, TX.  It was wonderful in many ways, and one of those was Robert reading an excerpt from this book aloud to me in the mornings or evenings or both.  If I remember correctly, the book may have been a gift to Robert from our friend Greg. {Thank you, Greg!?} Yesterday, when I was struggling with words of prayer and confession, I remembered the profound, biblical, and always-resonating words from this book of Puritan prayers.

I don't know that the following prayer is in the book, but it comes from a godly Puritan pastor named Richard Baxter, and was a good one for me to read and imitate yesterday in my loss for words...

O most great, most just and gracious God, You are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, but You have promised mercy through Jesus Christ to all who repent and believe in Him.

Therefore we confess that we are sinful by nature and that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

We have neglected and abused Your holy worship and Your holy name. We have dealt unjustly and uncharitably with our neighbours.  We have not sought first Your kingdom and righteousness.

We have not been content with our daily bread.  You have revealed Your wonderful love to us in Christ, and offered us pardon and salvation in Him; but we have turned away.

We have run into temptation, and the sin which we should have hated, we have committed.

Have mercy on us, most merciful Father!  We confess You alone are our hope.  Make us Your children and give us the Spirit of Your Son, our only Saviour.  Amen

I also enjoyed reading his "How to Spend the Day with God."

And yes, I know that Lent, or at least the fasting and sacrificing part of it, is not practiced on Sundays.  I simply want to engage in the discipline of posting every day until Easter! Happy Sabbath! ☺

Saturday, March 16, 2013

All Confessed Out? {Lent Day #33}

It was just Kayla and me last night. We skied all day in Vermont {last day for the season, and we even ended the day with a black diamond!}, came home in time for Kayla's Friday evening dance class, and then sent Kory and Cooper off to the 30 Hour Famine.  Robert made it safely to the Dominican Republic along with Pedro and Kevin.  He was able to text me quickly to let me know, and leave his phone on long enough for a Facebook photo upload. He also said they had a great appointment with the local Compassion International director there.  So excited to hear about future opportunities for our church to serve there!
As much as we miss them, it's kinda fun to have all of the men out of the house for a while!  Though we were super hungry after skiing, we chose not to eat or talk about our dinner plans until the boys left, as their final meal was the one we packed for the ski lodge at lunchtime.  As soon as they were out the door, though, we drove to Whole Foods.  We planned to just run in and grab something to take home, and we did just that, but not before a quick trip into Old Navy nearby.  Kayla found a cute Easter dress and matching cardigan there in record time, and then we walked a couple of doors down to Whole Foods.  We each got a drink, some Indian food {Chicken Tikka-Masala , Aromatic Yellow Rice, Saag Paneer = yum!} and a salad to share. We headed home, put on our pj's, ate our dinner, and snuggled on the couch with a movie ~ Pitch Perfect ~ which was a little ridiculous, but somewhat cute and entertaining. Then we went to bed {always together when Dad is gone} exhausted from the black diamond run.  Just kidding.  It really wasn't that difficult.  Actually, the blue run that we did afterward was much more horrific, and we're both still feeling the effects of that one!
I usually run five or six miles on Friday mornings {Mon, Wed. and Thurs., too}, but I haven't been able to run on Fridays lately due to skiing, since we usually leave the house at 7:30am. So, even though skiing is great exercise, I was still longing for my run this morning.  This bike path is where we typically run, but it certainly does not look like the above photo today.  I don't even think the trees are budding yet around here, and there is definitely nothing green anywhere ~ except for the evergreens,  of course.

I left Kayla in bed {she decided NOT to ride her bike alongside me☺}, headed out into the 28 degree weather {at least it was sunny!}, and down this familiar path.  Two miles down the path is Planet Fitness, so sometimes our routine is to run there, work out on the weight machines, and then run back home.  That's what I did this morning.

I also typically pray when I run, and try to stay focused by practicing the acrostic ~ ACTS. Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication.  It was hard to stay focused this morning, though ~ especially on the Confession part.  In fact, that sort of became my confession ~ that I often can't/don't stay focused in prayer, and I more often avoid confession altogether when I'm praying.  I think, for a moment, I even thought that maybe I'd confessed all there is to confess.  The thought vanished, though, upon a quick examination of my heart and attitude ~ thoughts and words.  There'll be no end to the need for confession on my part, but I'll never totally grasp that fact either.

It made me think of something else I read in John Piper's Finally Alive:

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9).  David said in Psalm 19:12, "Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults." In other words, we never get to the bottom of our sinfulness.  If our forgiveness depended on the full knowledge or our sins, we would all perish. 
 No one knows the extent of his sinfulness. It is deeper than anyone can fathom.
But the Bible does not leave us without help to know ourselves.  The fact that we cannot know fully how sinful we are, does not mean we can not know our sinfulness deeply and truly.  The Bible has a clear and devastating message about the state of our souls.  And the reason it does is so that we will know what we need and shout for joy when God gives it to us. (p. 46)

Thankful today, that even when I am at a loss for words of prayer and confession, it does not effect His forgiving me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gluten Free Friday ~ Feasting Before the Famine Bars {Lent Day #32}

Today is our last day of skiing for the season, and it also happens to be the first day of World Vision's 30 Hour Famine that my boys will be participating in.  Their final meal is supposed to be lunch today, and they will break their 30 hour fast at 6pm on Saturday evening.  The 30 hours will include sleeping overnight with all of the local teens involved, but it will also include service projects in the community, games, and biblical discussions regarding hunger and our call to feed the hungry.  Participation also requires raising money that will go directly toward feeding hungry children, and if you'd like to support them in this cause, here's a link to Kory's fundraising page. 

Speaking of hunger and those in poverty, we sent Robert off to the Dominican Republic last night.  He's traveling with two grad students from our church who have a passion and great ideas for helping out in an area of need there.  This is a preliminary visit to discern the specific needs of the community and ascertain the feasibility of taking a group from church there in the future to work on projects to benefit the people living there.
 Skiing and fasting will be a challenge today!  My crew is always famished on Friday afternoons and evenings when we arrive back home ~ and that's after stopping for snacks along the way.  So, we're taking extra care with the packing of lunch for the mid-skiing-day-lunch = plenty of protein and filling foods!

My Facebook news feed has provided me with all sorts of food inspiration, and this week the theme seemed to be "Blondies."  There were two different varieties and both were naturally gluten free!  I didn't have all of the proper ingredients to make either of the recipes my friends posted {Thanks, Jenny and Alyssa!}, but I did come up with a similar recipe last night.

 Feasting Before the Famine Bars
{a.k.a Quinoa Peanut Butter Bars}

1 1/2 quinoa flour {I ground whole quinoa in my Vita Mix grain container}
1/2 cup flax meal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter, smooth
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 package {12 oz} chocolate chips

Beat together butter, peanut butter...then eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla in large bowl.  In another bowl sift together quinoa flour, flax meal, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and combine thoroughly.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spread into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool slightly before serving.

These are pretty packed with protein!  Quinoa, flax, and peanut butter all contain quite a large dose of it.  It won't keep my guys full for 30 hours, but I'm hoping it will help them recover from skiing a bit while preparing to fast!

Oh ~ and please pray for ALL of the men in my family who are engaged in much ministry and outreach over the next few days! I'm so proud of them.  I wish I could say the same for Kayla and myself, but alas...we will be doing a very privileged American thing = Easter dress shopping. ☺

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Seeing and Savoring Supremely {Lent Day #31}

Those are the kids of words that John Piper always uses when talking about how, in new birth and regeneration, we are now able to view and treasure Christ.  I've never read Desiring God (I know, I know...), but I've heard him speak plenty of times, and I'm reading a book of his right now called Finally Alive.  It's a really great, tedious thorough treatment of the concept of "new birth."  I'm sticking with it, though, because I want to understand it better for myself.

And those words, phrases ~ "see and savor" and "treasure supremely" are not necessarily Mr. Piper's original words.  He's really just re-phrasing what the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3...

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ. (v.8)

...and suggesting that in the "new birth" after our previous spiritual deadness, this savoring of Christ supremely is possible.  We weren't able to treasure Him like this before in our hardness and resistance, but now we can.
It hit me this morning that I don't think I can say along with Paul and with complete honesty that I count ALL things rubbish compared to Christ.  In fact, I think I treasure the things He gives and provides for me over Him alone.  I "see and savor" home and marriage and children and the natural beauty of creation and friends and food and travel and ministry ~ and I often thank Him for these wonderful gifts, but I don't know if I would treasure Him the same without these things.  Knowing Him, cherishing Him, savoring Him supremely ~  suffering the loss of any "thing" in order to gain Him ~ just Him.  I confess I am not there yet, but hope to grow in those things daily.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Speaking of Texas... {Lent Day #30}

Yesterday, in my list of other, seemingly more trustworthy gods, I listed Texas for its lower cost of living.  I could have both a bigger house and a bigger savings account if I lived there after all! {Everything's BIGGER in Texas, right?} But that amenity is actually pretty far down my list of reasons to love and long for Texas.  I had no idea you could be so attached to and so nostalgic about a place, about a silly old state with no trees and no mountains, and hardly a beach, but indeed you can. It's the people, the Mexican food, the music, and the lakes and rivers that provide some competition, I suppose.  Well, those things and the fact that it just feels like home.  As soon as I step off the plane, I feel like I can relax, let my hair down, breathe easy, take off my armor.  And THEN... if my dad, in his khakis, dress boots, and Resistol, takes me to the Grist Mill for dinner in the warm evening air, with its white twinkle lights lining the courtyard, and the country music playing next door at the famous dance hall...well THEN...I'm just totally swept away to a happy, home-y feeling.
Two years in a row for my birthday!

And I think it's okay to enjoy those special moments ~ a gift from the Lord even, but I also think He's asking me to surrender to the place He's called me to live now.

Want to hear about how funny and gentle the Lord is in teaching me things like this?  Maybe you won't believe that He works though small insignificant happenings like this, but I have no doubt that He used The Case of the Ever-Disappearing Starbucks Gift Card to teach me a lesson about surrender.

In August, Robert and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  My youngest sister, Melinda, sent us a Texas Starbucks gift card with $20 loaded on it. {That's it in the above photo!} I could not get over how cute the gift card was with its Texas icons and vowed to keep it as my all-time Starbucks card.  How funny and novel it would be to use it in my downtown Amherst, Massachusetts Starbucks!  So, I took the kids there one day and did just that.  We spent about $15 of the $20 on the card.

A few days later, I went to look for the card and couldn't find it.  I searched my purse.  I searched our mini-van.  Coat pockets. Kids' coat pockets. Kitchen drawers and stacks of papers.  It was nowhere to be found.  I even went back to Starbucks, certain I had left it there accidentally.  Nope.  They would definitely remember THAT, they said.

I had a sneaking suspicion that God did not want me to be so attached to the silly thing or to the place it represented to me.  But then again, I always over-analyze everything, too. I lose other things, and this is just one of those things.

I never told Melinda that I lost her card.

 Three months later, I made a trip to Texas to be with my dad in the hospital for his knee-replacement surgery.  He picked me up at the airport on a sunny afternoon.  Our first stop was a Mexican food restaurant.  Stop number two was Barton Creek Mall. And stop number three on the way to his house was Starbucks.  I noticed more of the "Texas" gift cards there, and I decided to tell him the story about the one I lost.  He finished our order while I waited and as we walked out with our drinks, he handed me another "Texas" gift card upon which he had loaded another $20.  Perfect!  I'll never have to confess to Melinda that I lost her gift, I thought.  I laughed, thanked him, and put the card in my pocket as we approached his Suburban in the parking lot. Silly me for thinking the Lord did not want me to have one!

The next day was surgery day.  We got up at about 3am in order to be at the hospital at 5am.  I packed all of my belongings, since I would be staying with my grandmother nearby.  I knew from previous surgeries that there's a Starbucks around the corner from the hospital, so I went to make sure it was still snug in my pants' pocket, and move it to my wallet.  It was not there.  Oh, well.  I must have dropped it in the Suburban, I thought.

The surgery went perfectly, and when he was all settled into his room, I decided to go grab some ice coffee at Starbucks.  I'll just find the gift card in the Suburban, and use that.  There was no other place it could possibly have been.  I had already checked pockets, purse, suitcase, etc.

It wasn't there.  I searched between the seats, under the seats, in the glove compartment, drink holders, leather pockets....everywhere!  It had been less than 24 hours since I got the thing!  I honestly think the Lord somehow took it out of my pocket about one second after I put it in.

I did not tell my earthly dad I had lost his generous replacement gift card, but I did tell my heavenly father that I was sorry for not being completely surrendered to the place He wants my heart to be right now.  I was and am fairly certain that's what He desired in The Case of the Ever-Disappearing Starbucks Gift Card.

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37: 3-4
Just had to throw this one in for fun...☺