Monday, August 4, 2014

Cucumber Salad Recipe

This is a summer staple at our house when the garden cucumber start coming in. It's originally from the Hungarian-American cookbook by the Lutheran Ladies' League, Cleveland Ohio, 1968. It's the perfect, light summer side. 
  • 2 medium sized cucumbers (I use 3)
  • 2 tsp salt

Wash and pare cukes, slice very thin, put in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix lightly and set aside for an hour.
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water (I reverse the measurements for vinegar and water - more vinegar less water)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika (I'm told the type matters, but if your audience doesn't know better...)
  • 2 heaping tbsp of sour cream (add 3 tbsp if using light sour cream)
Combine the above ingredients and set aside.

Squeeze cucumber slices (I just drain them well) and discard the salty liquid.
Pour vinegar mixture over cukes and toss together.
Sprinkle a little paprika over them for color.

Options that I never bother with: add 1 clove minced garlic OR 1 small thinly sliced onion.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mechanical pencils and binders

At age 2, she started speed dialing me. I loved that about her.

At age 5, she called my cell phone and informed me, "Aunt Heather, I love you, but I talk to you all the time. I don't ever talk to Uncle Mark. Can I talk to him, please?" And talk she did. For 20 minutes. I love that about her.

FaceTime happened, and at age 8 she carried my electronic self into her newly decorated room, showing me the "not pink or purple" bedspread and curtains. Then she laid on her new comforter and told me all about some facet of life that I've now forgotten. I thought I couldn't love her more.

But she did me in last night. The topic was recent school shopping and that one thing that was her favorite. She told me it was her binder - because she's always wanted a binder for school - and her mechanical pencils. And then that sweet voice, "I LOVE mechanical pencils."

She's nine. She can't wait for school. She loves school. I love that about her.

But soon, someone will look at her love of mechanical pencils and binders and assign a label.

They will decide that the her-ness of her is not enough. That the perfect plan of God in creating her uniquely, wonderfully, fearfully doesn't measure up to some arbitrary standard.

All those labels. They are lies. The very opposite of truth.

My fervent prayer is that she she binds the truth of His love and faithfulness to her soul and writes it on the tablet of that beautiful heart. I pray that she fills that binder with page after page of the Truth. And that she scratches out all those false labels with her mechanical pencils.

I pray that she always speed dials her Creator.

I pray that she always pursues the hearts of others.

I pray that she spends time every day talking to her Maker about some facet of her life.

I pray that she BINDS love and faithfulness and truth around her neck and WRITES them on the tablet of her heart.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

When Neighboring is Hard

We have new neighbors at our little cottage where we go to rest—for peace and quiet and amazing sunsets that let you drink in the glory of God.

When we bought the place, the next door neighbors were friends. Literally. It’s not quite how their last name was spelled, but it was pronounced FRIEND. They were kind and laughed easily and helped us split wood and played cards with us. He was a World War 2 veteran. We loved them.

But last year, they sold their camp to new folks.

We welcomed our new neighbors. We were friendly. We approached this new relationship as if they, too, would be our friends. Instead, it felt like they approached us as the enemy. It appeared they were just looking to be disagreeable, that they’d made assumptions about us that just weren’t true. It never occurred to us that it could all go south so quickly.

They did not intervene when their dogs stood on our dock and barked at us while we swam. There were strong statements about lot lines and boundaries. There were tantrums and hurtful words that left us stunned and taking two steps back.

It was a tough summer. I did NOT want to be kind.

But as I prayed, I was challenged by Matthew 5:44-48.
“If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?” 
We are called to be different from everyone else. We are called to love our neighbors, and we are called to love our enemies. So what if our neighbors are acting like an enemy? Maybe we’re called to love them twice as much.
“In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” 
If I’m going to be like Jesus, I need to love those who don’t love me. I need to ask God for a double measure of patience and kindness. I need to work twice as hard to not be rude. I shouldn’t keep a list of the offenses. I should love them because Jesus loves them.

Amy Lively says, “Girlfriends, we represent Jesus until He comes again! Does this terrify you as it does me? Just when I’m not sure I can measure up, the Holy Spirit whispers, ‘I’m right here. Trust me.’ When Jesus has disappeared from your neighbor’s view, He will use you to help her find Him again. He will use your arms to strengthen her. He will use your words to calm her. He will use your home to comfort her.”

This summer, I have a new attitude and a new God-given love for my neighbors – even when it’s hard.